The internet is abuzz this morning with the possibility that others can listen into a FaceTime conversation before the other person answers. On Jan. 28, reports came out that Apple's iPhone reportedly has a FaceTime bug that lets people spy on you before you actually answer a FaceTime call, if you go through the right steps, per 9to5mac.com. In a statement, Apple said they were aware of the issue and it will be addressed in a software update set to be released later this week. In the meantime, you can shut off the feature if you're feeling a bit freaked out by the news. Here's what you need to know about Apple's FaceTime bug.
Apparently, the bug is via a flaw in the Group FaceTime function, where if you called someone via FaceTime and then attempted to add that same person to the call via the Group function, you could overhear what was going on on the other end even before they picked up, per Gizmodo. And it was reportedly possible to see the other end too. In a test, BuzzFeed News found that if the person being called pressed the volume down button before answering, they would be in full view to whomever is calling before they actually answered the call. Basically, the person receiving the call would have no idea that the person calling could see or hear them before they pick up the call. Per 9to5mac, the audio issue seemed to happen regardless of any button pushing. Pretty creepy, right?
Apple has responded to the FaceTime bug, telling Elite Daily in an emailed statement, "We’re aware of this issue and we have identified a fix that will be released in a software update later this week." The tech site has also disabled the Group FaceTime feature for the time being.
If you're concerned about your own privacy, that's totally understandable. I know I don't want someone else listening in on me without my knowledge. Or, even worse, being able to see me before I pick up the phone. It's unclear how long this bug has been in existence, but any amount of time is too long if you ask me.
The issue first came to light on Monday, Jan. 28, which also happened to be Data Privacy Day. Apple CEO Tim Cook took to Twitter to share a message about the importance of "reform for vital privacy protections." The irony is a bit *too real* given the FaceTime issue that emerged on the same day.
I took a quick peek at Apple's System Status page, which tells you what features are currently working and which ones aren't. Lo and behold, there's a yellow diamond next to the FaceTime feature on the page, which indicates that there is an issue of some kind going on.
As noted above, Apple does plan to address the issue by releasing a software update for users that eliminates the exposed privacy concern, and the Group FaceTime feature which allowed for the bug has been shut down for the moment. But if you want to take things into your own hands, you can always shut FaceTime off yourself. This can be done by opening the Settings folder on your iPhone or other Apple device. You can swipe down from the top and type in "FaceTime" to the Settings folder search bar. (This is the quickest way to toggle the feature.)
Or, you can scroll down until you come across the FaceTime folder. Click on the tab. This will open up the FaceTime settings folder. At the very top, you will see the word "FaceTime" with an option to toggle the feature on and off. Chances are, you've currently got FaceTime turned on. The button will appear green in color when FaceTime is activated. To shut the video-call feature off, simply touch the button next to FaceTime. Once the button turns white, you will not be able to receive FaceTime calls. Of course, this is just as easy to turn back on once an update is released.
The issue should be resolved in the next software update from Apple. My iPhone usually does a pretty good job of letting me know when there is a new update available to install. But, it doesn't hurt to keep checking back in to see if the update is ready. This can be done by opening up the Settings folder > General > Software Update. Until then, I'm going to leave my FaceTime calls off.