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.