Facebook will be closed for maintenance between Feb 29-31 - joke chain letter spreads

Filed Under: Facebook, Featured

Facebook maintenanceMessages have been spreading on Facebook claiming that the social network will be closed between February 29th and February 31st, 2013.

And, of course, it's kinda true. You won't be able to log into Facebook on February 29th, February 30th or February 31st this year. Nor will you have much luck, although the messages don't mention this, on June 31st.

Umm.. that's because those days don't exist.

Clearly whoever started spreading this message intended it as a practical joke - but it seems some users have taken it at face value and shared it with their friends, unaware of the silliness.

The messages appear to be particularly prevalent in French - maybe it was a gallic wag who started off the chain letter?

Facebook - closed for maintenance

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

But versions of the message have also been reported in English:

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

You have to wait until 2016 before the next February 29th comes around, and even then there's no plans for a February 30th or February 31st.

Readers with long memories will remember that this is not the first time that a hoax has spread claiming that Facebook will shut down. A few years ago, a bogus news story claimed that Facebook was going to permanently close on March 15th.

The reason? CEO Mark Zuckerberg claims that "managing [Facebook] has ruined my life. I need to put an end to all the madness."

Of course, as we explained in the following video, there wasn't a shred of truth to the story.

(Enjoy this video? You can check out more on the SophosLabs YouTube channel and subscribe if you like)

Hoaxes and jokes like these are nothing like as bad a problem as malware worming its way between users and stealing information, but they can still become a nuisance, clogging up communications, increasing the overall level of spam and perhaps leading people to make decisions for the wrong reasons.

If you're in the habit of regularly passing on chainletters and hoaxes, chances are that you could also be the kind of person to be duped by scams and malicious links, and could inadvertently share those with your online friends too.

There's an important lesson here - don't believe everything you read on the internet, and think twice before passing a story onto your friends.

Keep your wits about you and stay informed about the latest scams, hoaxes and malware attacks spreading fast across Facebook. Join the Naked Security from Sophos Facebook page, where more than 200,000 people regularly share information on threats and discuss the latest security news.

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14 Responses to Facebook will be closed for maintenance between Feb 29-31 - joke chain letter spreads

  1. mittfh · 590 days ago

    I thought this joke sounded familiar... it was doing the rounds two years ago (2011) and prompted a Naked Security article (handily enough, it's the top related link).

    No doubt it will also resurface in 2014 and 2015 - each time claiming a new batch of chronologically challenged people who take it seriously.,..

  2. imasmf · 590 days ago

    It is kinda funny. I had to go post it so I can see which ones of my friends are dumb enough to believe it and freak out!

  3. @imasmf

    Then they think the same and share it too! Haha.

    Oh well, it's funny.

  4. John Sweeney · 590 days ago

    From The Mafia Wars Team,
    Hello fellow mobsters. We regret to inform you that Mafia Wars will be closed for play on Feb 29th - Feb. 31st for some much needed maintenance. We are sorry for the inconvenience but look for some exciting new new game play when we come back online March 1st.
    Thank You,
    The Mafia Wars Team

  5. Snert · 590 days ago

    Isn't that same days they shut down the internet so they can clean the cat hairs out of the pipes?

  6. Correct me if I'm wrong, but shouldn't it be "there are no plans"?

  7. Nigel · 589 days ago

    I have found that I have no privacy issues with Facebook provided I use it only on the 32nd day (or later) of each month. ;)

  8. barbara · 589 days ago

    I'm Jewish, so here's a bit of yiddish re "chain letter" - oi gevult!! Picture me shaking my head in disbelief!!!

  9. John · 588 days ago

    I am sorry, but this one is such an obvious joke that I shared it--to make fun of those other chain letter things. Doesn't mean I fell for that other one or that I am "the kind of person to be duped by scams and malicious links". :-)

  10. Ellen · 588 days ago

    Ditto what John said--this is no different (IMHO) from any of the other hundreds or millions of jokes that go around that might make people think for a moment before groaning and going on with their lives. AND this one is blatantly obvious. Hardly worthy of a spam/hoax warning.

    • You say that, but our stats show that a surprising number of Facebook users are *searching* the internet for advice on this topic.

      So, although it's blatantly obvious to you that it's nonsense, there's clearly a significant pool of people who might be wondering if it is true or not.

      When you have a billion people using one site, there are bound to be some who aren't.. umm.. getting the joke quite as quickly as the rest of us.

      Besides which, a lot of folks are all too willing to share silly jokes and links with their friends on Facebook even though we know that habitually opening content like that from your pals' accounts can make it more likely that you will be duped by a scammy or malicious link.

      Hope that explains our logic in posting this advisory. Cheers

      • TenshiNo · 224 days ago

        Honestly, I didn't really pay attention to the dates when I first started seeing this. I just saw the 'Facebook to shut down' and thought "no they're not" and searched. As soon as I saw the thing about it being a joke, I reread it and was like "Oh. Yeah, well that makes more sense." lol.

  11. The month of February only has 28 days in common years or 29 days in leap years. that's the red flag that confirms its a hoax ! loll

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About the author

Graham Cluley runs his own award-winning computer security blog, and is a veteran of the anti-virus industry having worked for a number of security companies since the early 1990s. Now an independent security analyst, he regularly makes media appearances and gives computer security presentations. Send Graham an email, subscribe to his updates on Facebook, follow him on Twitter and App.net, and circle him on Google Plus for regular updates.