Posted in Freedom Friday

The Butt Call

Something happened the other night. I thought for Freedom Friday I’d share it with you all. Soon after dinner, while sitting at the kitchen table reading something or other on my phone, I received a FaceTime request. For those who don’t know what that is, it’s like Skype, but for iPhone. Someone can open a video conferencing conversation with you and you can chat until you turn blue. It’s quite fun, but annoying if you have matted hair and haven’t washed before answering the phone.

Pocket dialing
Pocket dialing

Anyway, I didn’t know the person who called, but I thought, “Hey, it could be one of my friends.” So I answered it. Well, I didn’t think a situation like this could happen to me, but it did. The person on the other side of the camera unwittingly had called my number by mistake. I’m thinking it was a slip of a digit or some other far out reason they couldn’t get the number right on the keypad.

Next thing I know, I’m watching a feed of a man walking through a hospital, taking an elevator, and roaming around the halls. The sound was unclear, there were all sorts of video dropouts, but for three minutes, he had no idea he was broadcasting.

Now, before you go off thinking, “Hey, Jack, why didn’t you hang up?” Two reasons: First, I didn’t have a clue who or where this was taking place. Second, the video was harmless in the sense that it didn’t give away any private moment, personal details or anything funky like that.

It was just a guy roaming the halls of a hospital looking for, what I’m assuming, someone to visit.

Butt call
Butt call

Which brings me to my question: Had there been an intimate conversation or a privacy concern would any one of you have hung up? I’m asking this in light of the recent ruling by a Cincinnati federal appeals court that states accidental pocket dials or butt calls are not private. Judge Danny Boggs compared the situation to someone leaving the drapes open and expecting passersby to ignore what was going on inside.

You can think about that for a minute. In the meantime, I have something else on my mind.

I was viewing a video on YouTube the other day, and I watched how someone could easily plant snooping software on someone else’s phone without anyone’s knowledge. I’m not going to reference the video, but it left me wondering how difficult would it be to do the same thing on someone’s laptop, given the history of operating systems and the vulnerabilities they present?

With that in mind, and the butt call incident, I went around the whole house lacing masking tape over the cameras and microphones to all our devices. I don’t need anyone seeing me with matted hair and PJ’s while I eat my bowl of cereal in the morning. Besides, I now feel much safer knowing my roaming around the house will not make it on someone’s YouTube channel.

How about it? Do you think I’ve jumped to the wrong conclusion? 


Does knowing your camera can become an accidental window for the world to view your life bother you? Like me, have you taken the drastic measure of covering all the cameras in your home?


Jack Flacco is an author and the founder of Looking to God Ministries, an organization dedicated to spreading the Word of God through outreach programs, literature and preaching.

17 thoughts on “The Butt Call

  1. I’ve never butt-dialed (that I know of) but I have texted unwittingly–a good twelve or so lines of gobbledygook, no less. Even phones in a case aren’t immune.

  2. Hello Jack. It has been ages since I have visited your blog. I’m thrilled to see you are the same as you had been last I spent an hour reading your musings. This is a great post!

    When I got my desktop computer….about 10 years ago….the first thing I did was put a sticky note over the camera lens. My husband thought I was (and still am crazy) but now I can let him read your post.


    1. No worries, Leslie! I’m plodding along, consistently, always tapping something on the keyboard.

      Good move with the tape over the camera. I just did it, and I feel liberated to be myself. Even if it means writing while in my PJ’s!

  3. You overlooked one of your devices, Jack, and I’m not going to tell you which one, but if you watch this Youtube video –’s_lawn_needs_mowing, you’ll probably guess which device you missed.

    I don’t cover my gadget cameras, but I always draw the curtains.

  4. Funny timing for this. Just yesterday my husband suggested I put a post-it or piece of tape over the camera lens on my laptop because it was possible for someone to hack in and watch me. My first thought was how disappointed they would be, because lately all I’ve done is stare blankly at the screen. My second thought: how creepy can you get! Now all anyone can see is an orange post-it.

    1. Mine’s a green, low-tack tape that I bought from Home Depot to help with edge painting in my room. It works great because if I have to remove the tape to actually use the camera on my laptop, I don’t have residue left over from the tape.

  5. I’ve never had a problem with this, but I have some pocket videos. For some reason, I leave my screen on and put my phone in my pocket. It opens the camera, sometimes taking a picture, or switching to video and recording for a few seconds. I even put one of those videos on Youtube. But there’s no picture, just sound.

    I know what you mean about recording through someone’s webcam. My wife always had hers covered up.

  6. Facetime always seems to turn on when I’m dialing. I tend to cancel it immediately out of fear of my unshaven or yawning face getting on camera. Those are really the only two modes I have. Seems butt-dialing is getting more and more ‘dangerous’ as phones evolve. Not sure I’d stick around for an intimate conversation. There would at least be the temptation to listen.

  7. Right on the target, Jack ! those ” pocket – dials ” / ” butt – dials ” are irritating. Especially since they’re usually from my uncle & not from some 6 – 7 foot tall Amazon with blonde / brunette hair, exotic features & legs up to their waist. 🙂

    1. This was my first, Zathra. So imagine my surprise when I was watching the scene play out. Unfortunately, it wasn’t some Amazonian, but that’s another story for another day!

      1. It’s usually from some stranger or accidental pocket – dial from my uncle. I can ” lock ” my keypad so ** I ** don’t do it, but most of the time I forget to.

      2. I have an iPhone, so with mine, I’m not quite sure how it’s even possible. That’s why I included the “digit slip” idea in the post!

      3. Mine still has actual physical keys or approximations thereof. & I’ve got ” hot – dog fingers “. Not the best combination, especially when I’m trying to text someone in a whopping big hurry. Factor in a penchant for deleting / trying to delete typos whenever possible ( OCD, I guess ), & it gets complicated. 🙂

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