Now might be a good time for iPhone and Mac users to disable FaceTime. After reports of a Group FaceTime bug went viral on Twitter and Snapchat, multiple tech blogs confirmed that the glitch allows callers to access other users’ microphones and front-facing cameras before the user picks up the call.
9to5Mac replicated the bug and found it “does not seem to expose the video camera for covert spying — just the microphone.” But BuzzFeed News found that the front-facing camera could, in fact, be accessed through the bug. If the call recipient has “Do Not Disturb” mode turned on, though, it seems the caller is at least unable to access the call recipient’s microphone.
Mac computers are also susceptible to the bug, perhaps even more than iPhones. 9to5Mac reports: “We have also replicated the problem with an iPhone calling a Mac. By default, the Mac rings for longer than a phone so it can act as a bug for an even longer duration.”
Apple told BuzzFeed News the company is “aware of this issue” and has “identified a fix that will be released in a software update later this week.”
Meanwhile, Bloomberg tech reporter Mark Gurman found that Apple’s System Status page lists Group FaceTime as temporarily unavailable. “Apple killed FaceTime conferencing server side it seems,” Gurman tweeted on Monday, January 28. “Right move.”
To disable FaceTime on an iPhone, go to the Settings app, tap FaceTime and switch the FaceTime toggle so it turns gray. On a Mac, open FaceTime, click FaceTime in the menu bar and select “Turn Off FaceTime.”
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