Umm… FaceTime has a pretty major bug. It’s been verified and has actually been known about for some time now. Until it gets fixed, you should probably disable FaceTime on your phone and all other Apple products you own/use.
This is what happens. You call someone on via FaceTime. That’s it. You can then use whatever FaceTime enabled device’s microphone to hear what’s going on on the other end, even if whomever you called didn’t pick up. And guess what: If you can do this to someone, that means that someone can do this to you.
From a technological standpoint, I am not sure how this is even possible. Motherboard explained what the “process” is though:
- Start a FaceTime Video call with an iPhone contact.
- Whilst the call is dialing, swipe up from the bottom of the screen and tap Add Person.
- Add your own phone number in the Add Person screen.
- You will then start a group FaceTime call including yourself and the audio of the person you originally called, even if they haven’t accepted the call yet.
Here’s a demonstration featuring a very cute pupper friend:
Step 1. FaceTime your friend
Step 2. Add your own number to the call
Spy away! pic.twitter.com/Tl9AsSP2aZ
— Brandon Arvanaghi (@arvanaghi) January 29, 2019
According to The Verge however, “it’s actually quite easy to prevent anyone else from invading your conversational privacy until Apple is able to fix the bug later this week. Just turn FaceTime off.”
Here’s the steps they outline to turn off FaceTime.
On a Mac
- Open the FaceTime app
- Go to the menu, and click on “FaceTime”
- Go to “Preferences”
- Uncheck “Enable this account” — or — Go to the menu and click on “Turn FaceTime off”
On an iPhone or iPad
- Go to the Settings app
- Scroll to “FaceTime”
- Toggle “FaceTime off”
Apple has supposedly temporarily turned off the Group FaceTime feature in iOS and macOS, which it says should supposedly address the bug for now. If you want to make absolutely sure you’re not a sitting duck for auditory spying though, you should just disable FaceTime entirely.
Do it now.
UPDATE (February 1): Supposedly the bug is fixed, so says the New York Times here.
UPDATE (February 4): Maybe not… “If you are wondering why you haven’t received an update to fix the FaceTime ‘eavesdropping’ bug uncovered last week, it’s because Apple has delayed its release.” (here)
Erika Chan is a sex positive people watcher (and writer). Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Image via Nicole McDaniel.