An Arizona teenager discovered Apple's FaceTime bug while playing 'Fortnite' last week, but he and his mother couldn't convince Apple that it was a big deal

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An Arizona teenager discovered Apple's FaceTime bug while playing 'Fortnite' last week, but he and his mother couldn't convince Apple that it was a big deal

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Tim Cook

AP

Apple CEO Tim Cook

  • An Arizona teenager and his mother tried convincing Apple to fix its FaceTime bug for more than a week but to no avail, according to a Wall Street Journal report on Tuesday. 
  • The 14-year-old apparently discovered the vulnerability on Sunday, January 20 while setting up a "Fortnite" gaming session with his friends.
  • The bug allows FaceTime users in a group chat to secretly hear what someone is saying before the person answers their call.
  • After posting to social media, calling, and faxing the company, the Arizona woman finally spoke to an Apple support representative last Tuesday. 
  • A description of the issue and a YouTube video replicating the bug were sent to Apple's Security Team last Friday, but the FaceTime group chat feature was not disabled until this Monday when word spread more widely across social media. 

An Arizona teenager and his mother tried convincing Apple to fix its FaceTime bug for more than a week but to no avail, according to a Wall Street Journal report on Tuesday. 

Michele Thompson told The Journal that her 14-year-old son Grant discovered the vulnerability on Sunday, January 20 while setting up a "Fortnite" gaming session with his friends. The bug allows FaceTime users in a group chat to secretly hear what someone is saying before the person answers their call.

That day, Thompson went to Twitter and Facebook to alert the company and warn others about the bug. 

According to the report, Thompson also sent faxes and made phone calls to Apple directly.

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Two days later, Thompson sent faxes and made phone calls to Apple directly, according to the report. That yieled a call from an Apple support representative who told her the best avenue to raise her concerns would be to file a formal bug report with the company. To do so, Thompson registered as a developer and submitted the problem to Apple's Bug Reporter program, according to the Journal. 

Apple's Security Team first responded to Thompson on Wednesday, and by Friday, she had provided the team with evidence of the issue, which according to the Journal included a description and a YouTube video of her son replicating the bug. 

However, the group chat feature on FaceTime remained live over the weekend and was not disabled until this Monday, when word of the privacy vulnerability spread widely across social media. 

Read more: Apple has disabled group FaceTime calls after it was humiliated on Data Privacy Day by a bug that lets people listen in on you

On Monday, Business Insider asked Apple why the concerns were not addressed earlier, though it declined to provide further information beyond a statement it issued, in which the company said it had "identified a fix that will be released in a software update later this week."

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Apple has often touted itself as the leader in privacy among Silicon Valley giants, taking thinly disguised digs at rivals like Facebook and most recently, paying for a marque billboard at the CES conference in Las Vegas to spread its privacy-first message. 

Ironically, the FaceTime bug went viral on Data Privacy Day, during which CEO Tim Cook called for "action and reform" for privacy issues. 

Thomson told the Journal that she hoped her son might receive some form of reward, in line with Apple's "bug bounty" program, and an earlier Facebook post by Thomson seeking to alert Apple to the bug noted that her son would like a new iPhoneX, a MacBook and a pair of AirPods for his trouble. 

Whether Apple grants his wish remains to be seen.

Got a tip? Contact this reporter via Signal at +1 (209) 730-3387, email at nbastone@businessinsider.com, or Twitter DM at @nickbastone.

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