Apple Facetime bug: How to turn off the app
FaceTime has a glitch that allows users to hear the audio of someone even if they have not answered the FaceTime call. Apple acknowledged that their FaceTime app has a privacy bug that allows other users to listen to the conversations of FaceTime call recipients without their knowledge. FaceTime users can use the group chat feature to initiate a call. When the caller adds their own number to the call, it causes the receiver’s device to transmit audio without any interaction from the recipient. The call recipient does not need to answer the call but all audio from their phone will be heard.
This FaceTime bug allows callers to eavesdrop on conversations. The call recipient’s phone will still show the lock screen with an incoming call that continues to ring. This bug is confirmed on iPhone and Mac devices but is not confirmed for tablet users. If your Phone rings with an incoming FaceTime call, the caller may have already heard everything from your end.
This is a significant privacy issue where anyone can eavesdrop on any iOS user. Because of the security glitch, callers could listen to or watch video from the call recipient’s phone even when the user did not accept the call. Apple disabled the group calling feature in FaceTime until the issue is resolved.
Should I Be Concerned about FaceTime?
The caller cannot hide the recipient’s incoming call screen. If the user declines the call the issue is over. Be aware that the eavesdropping occurs while the call is still ringing. As of now, Apple does not have a security patch for the FaceTime bug. As a result, Apple disabled the group chat feature on the app. Because the bug is not fixed, FaceTime users may want to disable the app entirely until the issue is understood completely. Since there is a bug in the app you may want to disable FaceTime all together until the flaw is understood and patched. The patch is expected sometime this week.
What Is FaceTime?
FaceTime is a calling and text messaging app for Apple devices including iPhones, Macs, and tablets running iOS. FaceTime supports both audio and video calls as well as text messaging.
How Does the FaceTime Bug Work?
FaceTime callers can initiate a call with any contact. While the call is dialing the caller then swipes up and chooses to Add Person – except they add themselves to the call. This will initiate a group call with the recipient even if the recipient has not answered yet. The caller will be able to hear all audio from the recipient’s device. The call recipient will not be aware that the call connected. On the caller’s device, it appears that the call recipient has joined the chat. But to the recipient, it appears that they have not yet answered the incoming call.
The bug was posted on 9to5mac.com. The post also stated that pressing the volume or power button on the recipient’s iPhone, which usually silences or dismisses the incoming call, will turn on the device’s camera instead. Because of the glitch, the caller can activate the recipient’s video although this will disable the audio.
The problem also exists if an iPhone calls a Mac. The FaceTime glitch is believed to affect any pair of iOS devices running iOS 12.1 or later. Apple has already disabled the Group FaceTime feature for all users while the app is updated. Apple has said the issue will be fixed in a software update later in the week.
Are Facetime Calls free?
FaceTime audio and video calls are free when using WiFi. If the device is not on WIFI then it uses up your data plan.
Is FaceTime Only for Apple Users?
FaceTime is only available on Apple devices such as iPhones, Macs, and tablets running iOS. iMessage and FaceTime cannot be used with non-Apple devices so, you cannot FaceTime from Android to iPhone.
How to Disable FaceTime so Callers Cannot Spy on You
Apple is aware of the issue with FaceTime and plans on releasing a security update later this week. If you are still concerned about your privacy, then it is best to disable FaceTime until the issue is resolved. Turn off FaceTime from your device’s settings.
How to Shut off FaceTime on iOS devices (iPhones, iPads)
- Go to Settings
- Scroll down to FaceTime
- Toggle the FaceTime switch off
How to Shut off FaceTime on Macs
- Open the FaceTime app
- Scroll to FaceTime in the upper-left corner
- Select turn FaceTime off
Michelle writes about cyber security as well as how to protect your data online. She has worked in internet technology for over 20 years Michelle earned a B.S. in Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. She published a guide to Cyber Security for Business Travelers