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Facebook ‘Closed for Maintenance’ Prank

by Brett M. Christensen

This story was first published on February 5th, 2013

Starting in early February every year, social media posts begin warning users that Facebook will be closed for maintenance between the 29th and 31st of February.   They ask recipients to send on the information so that other users will also be aware of the impending closure. 

But of course, the message is just a silly prank, although it apparently continues to fool at least some recipients. Firstly, no, Facebook is NOT going to be closed for maintenance.  Ever. That claim is simply absurd.

And secondly, even if it was to close, it certainly would not be occurring on the 30th and 31st of February, which, quite obviously, are not real dates. Nor is 2018 a leap year, so there is no upcoming February 29th either. Versions of the same “warning” have circulated since at least 2011.

This prank exemplifies how the immediacy and ease of use of social media can apparently cause many users to share or repost without due forethought or the application of even basic common sense. One would think that even the most gullible and wide-eyed among us would sense something amiss if they were only to take more than a cursory glance at the message and take in the improbable date.
Mind you, there have been plenty of similar hoaxes that have continued to fool more gullible Internet users year in year out. One long running predecessor of this hoax has claimed, every April Fools Day since at least 2005, that the entire Internet was scheduled to be closed for maintenance for a 24 hour period during which a “tune-up” will be performed and “high pressure information jets” will be used to “clear out the bottlenecks”.

And there have been numerous silly hoaxes that have falsely claimed that Facebook is to be shutdown due to congestion or because managing the site has become too stressful for the redoubtable Mr Zuckerburg.

These types of fake messages are clearly nothing more than leg-pulls. But, so long as there are users out there that are too quick to hit the share button or too gullible to realise that they are being pranked, such missives will continue to circulate.

Examples

Facebook Closed Prank

 

Attention !! Facebook sera fermé pour maintenance du 29 au 31 février. Faites passer à vos contacts pour qu’ils soient au courant.Merci

 

WARNING!! Facebook will be closed for maintenance from February 29th to 31st!! Facebook wants YOU to Share this message with at least 15 of your friends for the best chance of alerting everyone. Many people will try to log in from February 29 to 31, just to find the site closed down for those days with no warning. HELP YOUR FACEBOOK FAMILY — REPOST THIS


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