The visual captured by Agrawal during a trip last year, when downloaded as a wallpaper, caused multiple Android phones across the globe to malfunction. “It was the best sunset I captured during the trip, but I never thought it would be this popular — sadly for all the wrong reasons,” Agrawal tells ETPanache.
Crash and burn
Agrawal had edited the picture using an editing software — that’s when a bug crept in — uploaded it on photography platform Flickr and thought nothing of it.
However, he was surprised recently when he started to receive comments from his followers that his picture was crashing phones. The glitch made the devices turn off and on repeatedly, requiring a factory reset that would delete all data on the handset.
With his sunset picture flashing across YouTube videos and multiple news sites, Agrawal was left stumped. “It was alarming to say the least. A thousand things went through my head in a matter of seconds,” he says.
Agrawal also felt sympathetic towards people who lost their data because of the glitch. “I would have been very disappointed if something like that had happened to me. There were some websites touting conspiracy theories — that it may be a targeted attack by China or Russia. This made it even more unsettling,” he adds.
Agrawal finally decided he needed to clear the air about his intentions. “At first when the BBC interview came out, my parents who live in Bengaluru sounded worried. But when the news appeared on an Indian news website, they got excited to see my photograph,” says Agrawal.
But he’s quick to say he didn’t enjoy his 15 minutes of fame. “I am not usually very good at handling attention and prefer to lie low. But this was different as something that’s very close to me was questioned. My wife supported me and there was a lot of support that poured in.
People saw that I wanted to clear my name and it was apparent that it was not for publicity. I’m glad that I spoke out,” says Agrawal. “I still think we live in a world where kindness can be expected even from strangers on the internet.”
Agrawal also did his bit by trying to help people across the internet solve the problem by sending them relevant links. “There was a lot of disappointment and angst. But I separated myself from it and knew it was not directed towards me. They were asking what I have done with the photograph that their phones were bricked instantly. I directed them to some of the technical videos that others put on YouTube explaining the issue. I know how important a phone can be,” Agrawal adds.