FaceTime users can protect their privacy with these simple steps.

By Lauren Phillips
January 29, 2019

A new bug in Apple’s FaceTime app allows people to eavesdrop on FaceTime users—even if they don’t answer the call. Through a glitch in the group FaceTime feature, a caller can set up a group call and add their target. Even if the target doesn’t answer the phone, the glitch allows the caller (friendly or otherwise) to overhear the call recipient’s audio from his or her iPhone as if the call had been answered. If the recipient hits the power or volume button, the caller can even see video, without the recipient ever knowing.

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Apple is aware of the privacy issue and has disabled group FaceTime calls completely, NPR reports, until a permanent fix is available; USA TODAY says Apple plans to release a software update with that fix next week.

Until then, even with FaceTime’s group chat function disabled, it may be smart to disable FaceTime completely. Die-hard FaceTimers can reenable the app once the fix is released, of course, but people looking for a little extra security can follow these steps to protect their privacy on their iPhones for the next few days.

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How to disable FaceTime on an iPhone or iPad

  1. Go to settings.
  2. Scroll down until you see the FaceTime icon; it should be below Accounts & Passwords, with the icons for Calendar, Phone, Messages, and other pre-installed apps.
  3. Click on the FaceTime icon.
  4. At the top of the page, tap the green button to disable Facetime.

How to disable FaceTime on a Mac

  1. Open the FaceTime app.
  2. Click on the words FaceTime in the top-left corner of your screen
  3. Select turn FaceTime off (or press Command + K).

Once Apple releases a permanent fix for the FaceTime bug, you can follow the same steps to reenable FaceTime. In the meantime, if you really must video chat, try other services such as Skype, Marco Polo, or Houseparty.