iPhone ‘January, 1970’ bug: Trolls tricking people into accidentally destroying their handsets

Apple has said that it is aware of the issue and will release a fix soon, but until then the only thing you can do is remain vigilant

Online trolls are tricking people into completely breaking their iPhones.

Numerous tricks are circulating online that encourage people to switch their phone back to 1 January, 1970, and then restart it. But doing so confuses the phone and forces it to break, and it is only possible to bring it back by going to an Apple Store.

Most of the posts encourage people to switch the phone back because it will lead it to become “retro-themed”. Fake posts are even circulating online that look as if they are screengrabs from Apple’s own site, advertising an Easter egg that even shows the phone featuring a screen apparently themed like an early Apple computer.

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The 1 January, 1970 bug was discovered last week, and it isn’t entirely clear why it happens. Apple has said that it is aware of the problem, and will be fixing it in an update soon.

“Manually changing the date to May 1970 or earlier can prevent your iOS device from turning on after a restart,” Apple’s support site reads. “An upcoming software update will prevent this issue from affecting iOS devices. If you have this issue, contact Apple Support.”

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The issue seems only limited to more recent devices, which include 64-bit processors. It will also only happen on phones that are on operating systems later than last year’s iOS 8.

It has been suggested that the same bug could allow hackers to shut down phones remotely, though it isn't clear whether that exploit has actually been used yet.

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