Facebook shock - site to close for maintenance at end of February?

Filed Under: Facebook, Social networks

A hot meme flying around Facebook at the moment is - shock! horror! - that the site will be closed for maintenance from 29-31 February. Anyone trying to login on those dates will be disappointed.

WARNING!! Facebook will be closed for maintenance from Feb. 29-31,2011!! Facebook wants YOU to Share this message with your friends for the best chance of alerting everyone. Many people will try to login between February 29 & 31, just to find the site closed down for those days with no warning. HELP YOUR FACEBEOOK FAMILY -- REPOST THIS! lol for all of us addicts

Those people will probably also be disappointed in their calendar, since there is no 29 February in 2011. That date happens only every fourth year, when there is a Leap Year. All Leap Years are exactly divisible by four. So 2011 is not a Leap Year. That's the law. Clearly, there is also no 30 February and no 31 February - not this year, not next year, not ever.

This sort of joke is reminiscent of the great "First of April internet spring cleaning" meme of the late 1990s. Back then, April Fool's rumours would circulate that the internet would undergo its annual one-day shut-down on 01 April so that "dead email, inactive ftp and www sites, and empty USENET groups" could be removed to speed up the internet for everyone.

The worrying thing here is that at least some of the Facebook users who are passing on this 2011 joke seem to be blissfully ignorant that it is a joke.

They genuinely seem to think they're helping their friends by sharing the warning.

They're not just reading this meme and passing it on, but accepting it unconditionally. This means that they're not paying any attention at all before forwarding it.

That's dangerous. Our collective willingness to pass on internet cruft without so much as a critical glance is exactly the sort of behaviour which helps out cybercrooks.

This is how dangerous links end up endorsed widely, how risky on-line activities are made to seem harmless, and how innocent internet newcomers are sucked into on-line behaviours which can be exploited to our collective economic cost by cybercriminals.

C'mon, folks! Set higher standards! Read, think and inwardly digest before you recommend anything online!

Make sure that you keep informed about the latest scams spreading fast across Facebook, and other internet attacks. Join the Sophos page on Facebook, where over 60,000 people regularly share information on threats and discuss the latest security news.

PS. It's a Leap Year if the year is a multiple of four, with the special exception that years which are multiples of 100 are not Leap Years unless they are also multiples of 400. So AD1900 wasn't a Leap Year, and AD2100 won't be. But AD2000 was, because 2000 = 5 x 400.

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16 Responses to Facebook shock - site to close for maintenance at end of February?

  1. Cailyn Smith · 1298 days ago

    I can't believe how many fell for that I seen it a few times yesterday and my general comment was hey better go mark it on your calendar lol....many still didn't clue in. It is a said state affairs anymore that people choose to click and forward stuff as though they themselves haven't any intelligence to know better. Especially the older crowd, we have been around how many years yet don't know how many days are in February. It truly was entertaining to watch them all get upset over it.

  2. tammyr · 1298 days ago

    The BAD thing is the same people who pass on the scams spams and other malware would never pass on something as important as this page :(

  3. Rob · 1298 days ago

    Oh dear right the way up to the 31 of FEBRUARY this will surely affect my ability to communicate with people that are sitting opposite me at work :(

  4. Dan Arthur Jackson · 1298 days ago

    Mind you, the bit about not connecting to the internet from midnight April 1 to midnight April 2 is actually good advice, because there are always sooooooooo many April Fool's jokes on the Internet these days that it's sometimes really difficult to sort out what's real and what isn't. A lot of the time it's better to wait till it's all over and the jokes are revealed.

    • Mark · 1297 days ago

      Ah, that's the best time of the year for the Internet! I look forward every time to hunting down as many fake stories as I can and some of them have been real genius.

  5. JimW · 1298 days ago

    Before there was the WWW, for a number of years, the folks responsible for writing all the rules and standards for the Internet publshed RFC 1149 Standard for the transmission of IP datagrams on avian carriers, on Apr 1, 1990. They follwed that up with RFC 2549 IP over Avian Carriers with Quality of Service , to inplement current technology on Apr 1, 1999. There were people that actually did not understand 'avian carriers.' I love a good pun.

    • Paul Ducklin · 1297 days ago

      From RFC1149: "Audit trails are automatically generated, and can often be found on logs and cable trays."

      Another very cool April Fool's RFC is from 01 April 2001: RFC 3091 - Pi Digit Generation Protocol. (I assume that the name of the prototol - "PIgen" - is at least a passing nod to the Avian Carrier RFCs.)

      Quoting RFC 3091: "[a]s almost every secure Internet protocol requires a highly accurate value of Pi in order to function correctly, it is imperative that clients only use a trusted PIgen server. The imminent collapse of the Internet is assured if this guideline is not strictly followed."

  6. mugabo · 1297 days ago

    Leap years are handled by rules, not by laws. It is important for those of us in the security industry to be able to distinguish rules from laws.

    I forgive you; it's amateur mistake. ;)

    • Paul Ducklin · 1297 days ago

      In many, if not most, jurisdictions - and New South Wales, where I live, is one of them - issues relating to official dates and times are very much a matter of law.

      Check the NSW Standard Time Act, as amended, of 31 August 2005, for example, and then compare it with the NSW Standard Time Act, as amended, of 01 September 2005. That's the day we officially shifted from a core standard time of "the mean time of the meridian of longitude 150 degrees east of Greenwich in England" to "10 hours in advance of Co-ordinated Universal Time." That's a variable difference of less than a second at any moment. But it took an Act of Parliament to change it officially, and now it really is a legal matter that standard time is based on UTC, not on mean solar time.

      So, as you say, it is important for those of us in the security industry to be able to distinguish rules from laws.

      (Incidentally, the concept of "laws" and "rules" are pretty much interchangeable outside the legislature and the judiciary. The game of cricket, for instance, has no rules - it is governed by Laws, though they are merely the Laws of Cricket. Likewise, Australian Football's code book is officially known as the Laws of the Game - which should therefore not really called "Aussie Rules" at all. Association Football, or soccer, is also based on Laws, not Rules.)

      If you still don't like the concept, prhaps you could just accept my use of the words "that's the law" as a figure of speech of some sort?

  7. BULLDOGNK · 1297 days ago

    This was created to prove that people do not read when they post and thats why ScamSniper and The BULLDOG Estate decided to post this Hoax, to prove to our fans that the "Happy Clickers" will share anything that is posted on their walls without reading it

  8. I just pray that it has indeed reached the "Happy Clickers" which is the target audience and hopefully gone the extra mile to educate those who will click and pass on anything and everything that comes across their wall.

  9. robert · 1297 days ago

    well, scam or not... I usually ignore those posts and get rid of the serial doomsday fb post'ers. but alas, I am locked out for 6 hours now "due to site maintenance".... when checked through other friend's pages, my homepage is blank except for my name & pic.

  10. JusticeZ Hunter · 1143 days ago

    I don''t know how many idiots peoples are there.....no ideas to say,and you all know what I mean......

  11. Stephanie · 588 days ago

    February don't have the 30 and 31st. UGH. Come one people.

    • Jenny Hall · 210 days ago

      That was the point, and too many people didn't get the joke. Lighten up.

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About the author

Paul Ducklin is a passionate security proselytiser. (That's like an evangelist, but more so!) He lives and breathes computer security, and would be happy for you to do so, too. Paul won the inaugural AusCERT Director's Award for Individual Excellence in Computer Security in 2009. Follow him on Twitter: @duckblog