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Apple Group FaceTime Bug Allegedly Discovered by a 14-Year-Old Fortnite Player

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Apple Group FaceTime Bug Allegedly Discovered by a 14-Year-Old Fortnite Player

Group FaceTime bug allows people to secretly listen in on others

Highlights

  • Group FaceTime bug was widely reported in media on Monday night
  • The bug affects all iOS devices running on version 12.1 or later
  • Apple is working on a fix that will be released later this week

After a major privacy bug in Apple's Group FaceTime feature dominated the headlines on Monday and Tuesday, some new details surrounding the bug have appeared online. A US-based woman claims that her teenage son discovered the FaceTime bug last week itself and warned Apple about the same. A video as well as snippets of her email conversation with Apple Support have surfaced as the possible evidence of the teenager's discovery. Earlier, it was revealed that Apple's Group FaceTime feature allowed a caller to listen in on the other participants even if they had not accepted the call. The Cupertino-based company later acknowledged the existence of the bug and temporarily disabled the Group FaceTime feature.

A Twitter user with screen-name MGT7 tweeted at Apple Support on January 20 talking about a security flaw in Apple's iOS that allowed a teenager to eavesdrop on iPhone and iPad without approval, all of which sounded vaguely familiar with the Group FaceTime bug. The Twitter user also claimed to have shared a bug report with Apple. The user on Tuesday was identified as Arizona-based lawyer Michele Thompson, in a CNET report, which also revealed that Thompson's 14-year-old son claimed to have originally discovered the bug on January 19, while making a group call on FaceTime with his friends to talk about Fortnite. The report adds that he told the same to his mother, who spent much of last week, before the bug became public, trying to warn people. She reportedly sent emails, Facebook Messages, several tweets, a fax, and even filed an official bug report.

Tech entrepreneur John Meyer, who is said to have been in contact with Michele Thompson, has shared a number of emails that Thompson sent to Apple as well as a screenshot of the video that she made with her son to explain the problem to the iPhone maker. A Verge report says Thomson did not receive any replies to her initial emails from Apple and it was only after a formal email as well as a fax was sent to Apple detailing the bug and carrying a link to unlisted YouTube video with reproduction of the issue that the Cupertino-based company responded. The response, however, wasn't of much help as it asked Thompson to file an official bug report.

It seems Apple did become aware of the bug before the media reports that appeared on Monday night. The company, however, didn't block access to Group FaceTime, until the issue received wide media attention. The company hasn't released a statement over Michele Thompson's claims.

To recall, the Group FaceTime bug reportedly affects all iOS devices running version 12.1 or later. Apple has said that it is working on a fix for the same and it will be released with a software update later this week. For the time being, the company has disabled the Group FaceTime feature for all users. The normal one-on-one FaceTime calls remain functional.


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