Conspiracy theorists unite! Twitter users recently discovered a bug in the new iOS that allows you to hear and see your friend on FaceTime before they even answer.
How does it work? When you FaceTime a contact, you can swipe up at the bottom of the screen and select “Add Person.” Add yourself, and you will start a group Facetime call with yourself and the person you are calling, enabling you to hear their audio and view their video, even if they haven’t answered yet.
Obviously, this raises major privacy concerns. As Ian Bogost at the Atlantic puts it:
It’s not just significant because a giant, wealthy tech company introduced a bad and seemingly careless bug in the core software of the most important kind of computer on Earth. It’s also notable because the exposure, which is real, substantiates and mainstreams long-running paranoid fears about the inherent untrustworthiness of computer hardware. You know those paranoiacs who told you to cover your laptop camera with tape so hackers couldn’t spy on you? They were right, in a way: Your computer might be out to get you, even if it doesn’t mean to be.
Apple has taken the group-calling service offline until they can resolve the issue; however, many users are disabling FaceTime on their phones as a precaution.
This is a sad moment for Apple, who, up until this point, has mostly managed to stay above the fray as privacy scandals have plagued other tech companies like Facebook and Google. The worst they have faced was accusations of planned obsolescence, as iPhone batteries began to experience issues with new updates. It is likely that this new privacy concern will bode ill for the company, whose stock prices are currently struggling.