There are two standard features of Apple’s platforms that users of other systems, especially Android, seem to always desire. Even with the likes of Google’s Duo and Messages, iMessage and FaceTime seem to remain the standard in instant messaging and video chats. That doesn’t mean they are perfect, however, and recent events have revealed some of FaceTime’s glaring flaws. Although these flaws have been around since forever, it seems that the number of people abusing the system to make FaceTime spam calls has suddenly surged in the past few days.
FaceTime makes video calls almost too easy, whether it be an intimate one-on-one or, more recently, group calls. The latter proved to be buggy when it first launched years ago but little did anyone know that it would be missing features, not bugs, that would give dozens of users headaches today.
Apple’s support forums and social media are full of anecdotes about FaceTime users getting numerous spam calls, some of them in the middle of the night. Griefers are able to abuse the platform’s callback system, allowing a single person to call 31 numbers at a time and, when one person hangs up, another call from a different number will call the group again. Not only does this lead to annoyance, it can also cause violations of privacy when family members accidentally answer calls, for example.
What makes matters worse is that FaceTime isn’t equipped to handle this kind of spam. Unlike other video or voice calling services, FaceTime doesn’t support accepting calls only from people in your phone book. It also doesn’t have a feature that will let users block all numbers in a group call, forcing them to do so one by one.
The only recourse users have at the moment is to turn off FaceTime entirely or at least during the night or block others from using their phone numbers for FaceTime calls. That, however, also blocks legitimate uses of FaceTime. Hopefully, Apple, which champions its users’ privacy, will have a fix available as soon as possible.