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Woman Tried to Warn Apple About 'FacePalm' Bug

She says she tried everything 'short of smoke signals'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 30, 2019 4:43 AM CST
Updated Jan 30, 2019 6:21 AM CST
Apple exec Craig Federighi, speaks about group FaceTime during an announcement of new products at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference Monday, June 4, 2018.   (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
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(Newser) – A mother in Arizona says her teenage son uncovered a major security hole in FaceTime more than a week ago—but it was very difficult to get Apple to take it seriously. Michelle Thompson tells the Wall Street Journal that her 14-year-old son, Grant, discovered the bug, which allows users to eavesdrop while playing the game Fortnite and using FaceTime to chat with friends on Jan. 19. She says that in the following days, she tried to alert Apple with phone calls, emails, faxes, and social media posts, but the glitch was not dealt with. "Short of smoke signals, I was trying every method that someone could use to get a hold of someone at Apple," she says. The bug allows users to capture audio and video from devices of people added to a FaceTime group chat, even if they haven't answered the call.

Thompson says that after several emails back and forth with Apple Support, she was eventually told to report the bug by registering as a developer, which she did in the hope Grant could claim a reward. Apple finally disabled the group chat function after reports on the bug went viral. The company says a fix will be issued this week for what security researchers are calling the "FacePalm" bug, the New York Times reports. Apple hasn't commented on how the bug slipped through in the first place, or on why it was so slow to respond to warnings. "It's just hard for the average citizen to report anything," says Thompson, who doesn't know if Apple will be giving her and her son a reward—or even a thank you note. (This iPhone thief was caught after answering a FaceTime call.)

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