If you follow the instructions contained in a nasty hoax message currently circulating via social media and online forums, you could render your iPhone unusable. The message claims that you can activate an ‘easter egg’ by changing the date on your iPhone to January 1st, 1970 and then rebooting the device. Supposedly, the easter egg will allow you to ‘warp back in time with a classic Macintosh theme to relive the magic’.
However, changing to the specified date as instructed will in fact ‘brick’ your iPhone. Your phone will not restart and you will not be able to restore via the normal method using iTunes. You will likely have to take the phone to an Apple store for repair.
Why does this happen? It’s a little complex but a post on Apple support communities explains it thusly:
We’re not sure why it happens, but it’s related to the fact that iOS is a Unix based system, and Unix time starts at 0:0:0 UTC on January 1, 1970. All time is saved as seconds since that date-time, and converted as needed for human understanding. (Negative seconds refers to time before that date and time, and works back to 1904, but apparently Apple didn’t include earlier dates because they didn’t think you would ever take your iPhone with you in a time machine.)
According to Business Insider, the hoax message may have originally come from the notorious troll forum 4Chan. Since then, it has been passed around via Twitter, Facebook, and other social media outlets and has apparently tricked a lot of people into breaking their iPhones. The bug reportedly affects devices running 64-bit iOS including iPhone 5S, iPad Mini 2, iPad Air, and newer versions.
What to do if you have been caught out by this trick and bricked your phone? While some people have reported that you can fix the problem yourself by attempting to restore in DFU mode as described here, other have said that this fix did not work for them. The procedure is apparently fairly tricky to achieve and must be done exactly right to work. Also, this procedure will wipe all of the data on your phone.
Others have suggested that opening the phone up and disconnecting and reconnecting the battery will fix the problem. However, this is not good advice as doing so will likely void your device warranty and you could even do further damage if you don’t know what your are doing. The best option is probably to take the phone to an Apple store.
If you have friends or family members that use iPhones, make sure that they are aware of this hoax and do not inadvertently break their devices.
Last updated: February 15, 2016
First published: February 15, 2016
By Brett M. Christensen
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!