Is the iPhone taking secret pictures of FaceTime users?

Users of Apple's FaceTime video-conferencing tool are complaining about a bug that they say causes the iPhone to snap a picture of them without their knowledge and then display it in FaceTime.

Don Reisinger
CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
2 min read

A small number of FaceTime users have complained of a "creepy" glitch with Apple's FaceTime video-conferencing platform.

According to a posting on the Apple discussion forums, iPhone users are seeing photos of themselves that they claim they had never taken show up on FaceTime when they try to place a video call to another user. One person said that her boyfriend saw a picture of himself at work displayed in FaceTime, even though he has never used the service in the office.

"When one of us is calling the other via FaceTime, an old picture freezes on our screen, while the person receiving the call only sees a black screen," a person using the name "kar0786" wrote on Apple's discussion forums. "It's kind of creepy, because it brought up photos of both of us at work, where I have used FaceTime a few times but he never has."

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment. However, in my tests with the two iPhone 4s in my home, I wasn't able to replicate the issue some users report having.

Even so, several people responded in the Apple forums saying that they have experienced the same problem. One person said that it was "very creepy for my phone to be taking pictures of me when I haven't told it to." The person was told by Apple support to restore the iPhone to factory settings. After that didn't work, the person claims, Apple support said to bring it back to the store and get a new device. The same problem occurred on the new iPhone, the person says.

This isn't the first time FaceTime has been the subject of user complaints. Last month, iPad 2 and iPhone 4 owners complained that FaceTime was freezing in the middle of their video calls. After restoring the devices, the issue continued to occur, causing some to speculate that it was a problem with the recently launched iOS 4.3 and not the hardware itself.

Based on the information provided in the Apple forums on this latest reported glitch, iOS 4.3 might also be the culprit in this situation. If so, hopefully Apple will address it in upcoming updates to its mobile operating system.

Here's a video from a person claiming to be experiencing the latest FaceTime glitch: