A glitch in Apple's FaceTime app let users hear the other person — and in some cases, see video — even if the recipient never accepted the call. The bug was widely reported late Monday, and confirmed by several technology reporters. Until it can offer a permanent fix, Apple says it has simply disabled group FaceTime calls altogether.
It's an unusual misstep for a company that prides itself on its strong privacy safeguards. And it comes in an environment of heightened scrutiny over privacy protections, as a new Congress considers whether to impose stronger regulations on technology companies like Facebook that are often accused of violating users' privacy.
The FaceTime glitch was first noticed by trade publication 9to5Mac, which wrote that the bug, which was "spreading virally over social media," lets you "immediately hear the audio coming from their phone." The publication listed a detailed succession of steps needed to reproduce the glitch, which involved starting a FaceTime video call with an iPhone contact and then immediately adding your own phone number to the call. This would trick the phone into starting a group FaceTime call and activate the other person's audio. If the recipient hit the power or volume button, the phone would broadcast video as well, the Verge reported.