This story was first published on April 7, 2015
According to this ‘warning’, which is circulating via SMS and social media, you should be careful not to accept a video called ‘The Dance of The Pope’.
The message claims that the video is a very dangerous virus that will format your mobile phone, thereby presumably wiping all of the infected phone’s data. Supposedly, the warning was announced on the radio.
The message asks you to pass on the information to as many people as possible.
However, the would-be warning has no credibility. I could find no legitimate security warnings about a mobile phone-based malware threat like the one described.
Malware threats to mobile phones are increasing and are likely to continue to increase. However, there is no credible information about any sort of phone malware that will actually format a mobile phone in the way suggested in the ‘warning’.
Another, almost identical, variant of the hoax substitutes “Dance of the Hillary” for “Dance of The Pope”. Both versions are equally nonsensical.
And, both hoaxes are strongly reminiscent of much earlier virus hoax messages that claimed a particular email contained a virus that would destroy or wipe a computer’s hard drive.
Passing on false or misleading security warnings only serves to cause confusion. If you receive this hoax message, please do not pass it on to others. And please let the sender know that the warning is not valid.
An example of the hoax message
URGENT: Tell all contacts from your list not to accept a video called the dance of the Pope. It is a virus that formats your mobile. Beware it is very dangerous. They announced it today on the radio. Pass on to as many as you can. It was announced on the radio in USA. Copy n paste
Importance NoticeAfter 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 YouI 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 DateHoax-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!