RUSH: All right. Let me deal with this — the iPhone, the Apple FaceTime issue — real quick and get rid of that. Because it’s like so much else in the news. It’s being amplified, it’s being hyped, and it’s scaring people into thinking that everybody’s spying on ’em and nobody has any privacy. I just recoil at what the media has become. It’s one crisis… It’s one fearmongering episode, scaremongering episode after another. Let me ask you a question. How many of you, A, use Group FaceTime? Group FaceTime is new.
It was just turned on and made active as an issue late last year. Group FaceTime on your iPhone, on your iPad — and we’ll throw the Mac in, although… You can have conversation up to 32 different people at the same time. How many of you have implemented Group FaceTime? It’s built in so all you have to do after you connect with somebody else, then you add another, you add another. How many of you have used it? Okay. Probably not all that many, but some of you have. Next thing. Next question.
How many of you, when using Group FaceTime, add yourself to the conversation? Answer: Zero! You’re already in it when you initiate the FaceTime. How many of you are then gonna go back and add yourself? The answer is none of you, on your own. Well, that’s what you have to do to trigger the bug. A 14-year-old kid discovered it and told Apple about it a week before Apple acknowledged it. (That’s a whole ‘nother thing I’ll get to here in just a second.) So here’s the bug. You initiate a Group FaceTime call by calling somebody.
And then you add yourself. And before they even answer, you can hear them on their iPhone. But you have to add yourself to the call. Nobody is going to add themselves to the call — until they learn about this. Like if you’re gonna FaceTime your mom, you FaceTime your mom. That’s it! You’re not gonna go add yourself. You’re already there. But you have to add yourself before the person you’re calling answers in order for their phone to be activated so you can hear what they are saying.
Apple has turned Group FaceTime off. You cannot do the bug. They’re in the process of fixing it. They’ll have a software update later this week, they say, that’s going to fix this. It’s not a major deal. By itself it is. I can tell you of all the times I use FaceTime, I never add myself to it. I’m already there. I’m the guy originating it, and you have to be the originator here. So you put in the name or number of the person you’re FaceTiming, works through audio and or video, and then immediately add yourself.
And for some reason, that then activated the phone of the person you were calling before they even answered it. So you could hear what they were saying, if they were saying anything. And you could see what they were doing if they were doing anything. But the moment they answered, all that ended. So you had, what, five or 10 seconds, maybe, of spying on people. But there’s no way you stumble across this — except this 14-year-old kid did ’cause they’re always playing around with things.
So here’s the next phase of this. The 14-year-old kid and his mom get hold of Apple support (this is a week ago) and they tell ’em, “You’ve got a problem here,” and they demonstrate it. Now, the person on the other end at Apple thinks he’s talking to a couple of, you know, plebe dimwits that don’t know what they’re talking about, and you know what he tells ’em to do? He tells this woman, who is not a techie, “Well, you have to set up a developer account before you can report a bug.” She says, “What?”
“Yeah, you have to go to the developer page, it costs $99 a year, and you have to set up a developer account and then submit what Apple calls ‘a radar bug.'” I am certain that this guy at tech support never thought this woman would do this. It was a way of getting rid of her. Tech is the most amazing thing. The people that design it and use it think most of us don’t know the first thing about it, and so whatever problem we report to them, they think it’s our stupidity and ignorance and they take very little of it seriously, unless you actually walk into an Apple store and show them the problem. But if you’re just doing this with phone calls and emails…
Well, the woman did it. The woman actually set up the developer account and filed a bug report and sent a video demonstrating the bug, and then Apple went into gear yesterday. I don’t know if that tech support guy got demoted or if he’s still there, but I know exactly how this works. Here’s a woman from wherever she was from. (paraphrased exchange) “My 14-year-old son just found something, that if he adds himself to a FaceTime call, we can hear the people we’re calling before they answer,” and the guy answers.
“Right, lady. Right. Do I have to keep putting up with these idiots on the phone? Why am I doing tech support? Okay, lady, here’s what you do. You got to go to our developer page.” “What’s that? I don’t know what a developer page is.” “Here’s the website. Go to the developer page, set up your developer account, and then you can file a radar report.” “What’s a radar report?” “Well, it’s what we call bug reports. Submit a video, fill out the form…”
Submitting one of these radar reports, folks, is a rather involved process with evidence and videos and still shots and audios and all that to document and demonstrate whatever bug you’re reporting. Well, this woman did it! I’m sure the guy on the phone never thought she would. So, anyway, Apple had to take it for what it is, and once the tech blogs got hold of this, then everybody found out about the bug and everybody started using the bug. But other than that, nobody would have ever known it existed because nobody is gonna add themselves to a FaceTime call.
Some people might do it by accident. And then if they heard the person on the other end they were calling before the other person answered, they’re not gonna think anything’s odd about it. Well, they’ll think it’s odd but they’re not gonna think bug and they’ll just let it go. But this 14-year-old kid knew something was not right here, told his mom, and they followed it down. So now Apple is fixing it, and the embarrassing thing for Apple is that they have staked their claim to privacy.
Of all the other phone manufacturers, all the other tech companies — you know, via Facebook and Twitter — Apple! They have a big banner advertisement at the CES show in Las Vegas in January. “What happens on your iPhone stays on your iPhone.” Well, apparently not in Group FaceTime calls. But it’s nothing to panic, folks. They’re gonna fix it. It’s gonna be up and running. They’ll get rid of it, they say, by the end of the week. It’s not something that you would have discovered in normal usage of your iPad or iPhone.
But Apple in the media is like conservatives and the Republican Party is in the media. Whenever there is an opportunity to blow ’em up, the media is on the case. Blow it up and amplify it and scare people is exactly what’s going on here. But there hardly is any reason to ever panic over any of these privacy bugs, these security bugs, because they all get patched eventually, they all get fixed. And nobody is… I can’t say “nobody,” but I’m sure the people of Apple are not spying to follow you calling Aunt Mabel and wanting to hear what Aunt Mabel says before she answers your call.
Nothing against Aunt Mabel. I mean, there are just better things to do out there with your time than follow people around as they’re using your devices. But, you know, I still run into people that will not give up the “home” button. They will not get a new 10 Series phone because they don’t like Face ID. They just don’t trust it. No matter what you tell ’em — and I do. (sigh) “It’s not really a picture. It’s a 3D map. It stays on your phone. It doesn’t go anywhere. Nobody else can use it.”
“What about if I’m asleep and somebody gets into my room? (sputtering) Can they just get my phone and point it at me and wake the phone up?” “No. Your eyes have to be open. You have to be awake.” “Really? I don’t believe that!” Eh. I think I know what it is. I do think that there’s a lot of muscle memory familiarity with the “home” button. It’s been 10 years. People don’t want to give it up. “Face ID? I don’t know. It makes me feel nervous.” A lot of people think they’re ugly. Let’s be honest. A lot of people think they’re ugly and don’t want things based on their face.
A lot of people have self-image problems, as you well know. (panicked) “My face is on there? I — I — I — I — I don’t want that!” And then there are some people that won’t even use the fingerprint ID. They’ll manually enter their four- or six-digit code every time they unlock the phone because they don’t trust any of these unlocking features, these security features. But on the FaceTime, you can’t implement it now because Apple has shut that down. Group FaceTime has been deactivated and it won’t come back up until they’ve got this bug fixed.
RUSH: This FaceTime, this Group FaceTime issue… I don’t know if I should mention this, but it’s such a nothing issue. The same thing happens if you do a remote-control session via the messages app. The messages app has a screen share feature, and people use it to help their friends diagnose problems. So if you’re an expert and you got a friend who’s not, you can share their screen. You can go into their system (with their permission, of course) and then you can help diagnose what’s wrong with their device. This is via the Mac, primarily.
And when you initiate one of these screen-sharing sessions via remote control, you can hear people on the other end. You can hear the person you’re trying to connect to for two to 10 seconds before the connection is actually established, before they get a note that you’ve called, you know, a ring and answer. It’s a nothing issue!
It is blown-up into a major security hole. (sigh) The media is so damned irresponsible in what they’ve done in the overall American mind-set when it comes to just the daily acceptance that life has become a never-ending crisis filled with never-ending chaos. This is why if you ever take my advice and go off the grid for just a weekend — if you can’t go a full week, just a weekend — you’ll be amazed at how your life changes when you are not subjecting yourself to media bombardment so many hours of your waking day.