It’s like a bad episode of Black Mirror. Late Monday night the Twitterverse caught wind of a FaceTime bug on iPhones and Mac’s that gives callers the ability to listen in on your conversations even if you don’t answer.
1. Start a FaceTime video call.
2. While it's still ringing, swipe up from the bottom of the screen and click "Add Person."
3. Add your own phone number to the call.
You'll now be able to hear the microphone from the other device, even if the owner is nowhere nearby.
— Andy Baio (@waxpancake) January 29, 2019
Detected by the tech influencer pub, 9to5Mac, the internet soon found out and began testing the FaceTime bug, only to find that it was true. As you can imagine, there was outrage and an immediate call for solutions.
Imagine declining a call from a number you don’t recognize and that person is still able to eavesdrop on your conversations as long as you’re in earshot of your phone. How couldn’t one be concerned?
The FaceTime bug definitely proves that your phone can be used as a remote listening device "without any authentication".
— Marcus J. Carey (@marcusjcarey) January 29, 2019
if you thinking about facetime glitching me… trust me you don't wanna hear what i'm doing alone
— davis. (@OpTicHitch) January 29, 2019
To enact the new bug all you have to do is start a FaceTime call, swipe up to add a person, then add yourself. This will create a group FaceTime call and automatically answer the call for the first person.
Both the caller and the original recipient will be able to hear one another. If the caller is quiet, the new bug allows them to hear the recipient even if they didn’t hear the original call.
There’s also a bug that exposes video that is believed to affect any pair of iOS devices running iOS 12.1 or later. Also discovered by 9to5Mac, they ran a test similar to making the call, except this one “ looks like the other person has joined the group chat, but on their actual device it will still be ringing on the lock screen.”
Apple in response to the new bug said the issue will be addressed in a software update “later this week” and has taken Group FaceTime offline in an attempt to address the issue in the interim.
Still, the company can’t ignore that they’re in the midst of a big privacy issue.
Late Monday night the Apple System Status page showed that Group FaceTime was unavailable and it appears that they’ve to turned off the Group FaceTime feature on the iPhone already. Now when someone attempts to turn a regular FaceTime call into a group-call the original FaceTime call disconnects entirely.
However, if you still don’t trust that and want to disable FaceTime on your iOS 12 iPhones or iPads, go to Settings, scroll to FaceTime and click the “off” position.
Those on a Mac running Mojave can disable FaceTime by opening the FaceTime app, clicking “FaceTime” in the upper left corner and then clicking “Turn FaceTime off” from that drop down window.
When you think of all that we already offer — our fingerprints, location, and banking info, you can’t help but draw skepticism at a billion-dollar company’s negligence. Coincidence or did someone stumble across something they shouldn’t have?
You don’t have to be a sci-fi junkie or a conspiracy theorist to question the authenticity or motives of Apple in light of this crisis, seeing that Facebook has sold personal information and our spending habits are tracked online.
Call it Black Mirror, Twilight Zone or 1984, either way, it’s apparent that we as civilians must take more responsibility in securing our data and consider more heavily where we release it.