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Christmas Tree App Virus Hoax

by Brett M. Christensen

Outline

Messages circulating rapidly on Facebook warn users not to install the “Christmas tree app” because it is a destructive trojan virus.

Brief Analysis

The warning is a hoax. There is no virus or trojan like the one described in these messages. The warnings are invalid and should not be reposted.

Examples

Warning!!! dont use christmas tree application. Dont open it on FB!!! lts a TROJAN!!! if you were tagged on a christmas tree…DELETE IT!!! Repost!!!!

 

WARNING!!! DO NOT LOAD the Christmas tree app. It will crash your computer. Geeksquad says it’s one of the WORST trojan viruses there is and it is spreading quickly. Please re-post and let your friends know

Christmas tree app hoax post

Detailed Analysis

According to warning messages that are currently circulating rapidly around social network Facebook, users should be careful not to install a Facebook application called “Christmas tree” because it is a “trojan virus” (or in one version simply a trojan). The original version of the message, which began circulating in November 2010, warns that the app has been identified by Geeksquad as one of the worst trojan viruses ever and is spreading quickly. The messages ask users to repost the warning so that others will know about the supposed threat.

However, the claims in the messages are untrue. There is no computer security threat like the one described in the warning. In fact, the warning is just one more in a long line of utterly pointless virus hoaxes that have circulated for years, at first mainly via email and more lately via social networking as well.

Sophos security expert Graham Cluley has denounced the warning as a hoax, noting in a November 2010 blog post:

Thousands of Facebook users are warning each other about a Christmas Tree virus said to be spreading in the form of a rogue application on the social network.

The only problem with this warning? It’s utterly bogus.

Moreover, Geeksquad, the entity listed in the original warning message as having identified the supposed threat, has denied any involvement, noting in an alert on its website:

In actuality, Geek Squad has not officially investigated this particular application, nor have we identified it as the source of any infections in any cases we have supported.

And the supposed threat is not listed on any reputable computer security site other than those that identify it as a hoax.

In fact, there are a number of Facebook applications that have the words”Christmas Tree” in their names. However, at this time, none appear to pose any security threat to users, certainly not the destructive “trojan virus”, discussed in the warning message. Certainly, as with all things Facebook, users should use due caution when following links or installing applications. It is even possible that someone will, at some point, actually create a rogue Facebook application that masquerades as a Christmas tree.

But that vague possibility does nothing whatsoever to justify the continued spread of this nonsensical warning message. It is important that Facebook users check the veracity of the information they send on via reputable sources. Reposting such pointless nonsense will certainly do nothing to help. In fact, continued reposting of such misinformation only adds to the pointless clutter already inundating Facebook. Ironically, because they spread so rapidly and cause so much unnecessary confusion and alarm, such bogus virus warnings often become as much of a nuisance as real computer viruses or worms.

If you receive this hoax message, please do not pass it on to others. And please take a moment to let the original poster know that the information in the warning is false.

Importance Notice

After considerable thought and with an ache in my heart, I have decided that the time has come to close down the Hoax-Slayer website.

These days, the site does not generate enough revenue to cover expenses, and I do not have the financial resources to sustain it going forward.

Moreover, I now work long hours in a full-time and physically taxing job, so maintaining and managing the website and publishing new material has become difficult for me.

And finally, after 18 years of writing about scams and hoaxes, I feel that it is time for me to take my fingers off the keyboard and focus on other projects and pastimes.

When I first started Hoax-Slayer, I never dreamed that I would still be working on the project all these years later or that it would become such an important part of my life. It's been a fantastic and engaging experience and one that I will always treasure.

I hope that my work over the years has helped to make the Internet a little safer and thwarted the activities of at least a few scammers and malicious pranksters.

A Big Thank You

I would also like to thank all of those wonderful people who have supported the project by sharing information from the site, contributing examples of scams and hoaxes, offering suggestions, donating funds, or helping behind the scenes.

I would especially like to thank David White for his tireless contribution to the Hoax-Slayer Facebook Page over many years. David's support has been invaluable, and I can not thank him enough.

Closing Date

Hoax-Slayer will still be around for a few weeks while I wind things down. The site will go offline on May 31, 2021. While I will not be publishing any new posts, you can still access existing material on the site until the date of closure.

Thank you, one and all!

Brett Christensen,
Hoax-Slayer