‘Dance of the Pope’ Virus

Rumors of a cell phone virus disguised as a video called the 'Dance of the Pope' (or 'Dance of the Hillary') are hoaxes.

  • Published 31 March 2015

Claim

A cell phone virus is circulating disguised as a video called the 'Dance of the Pope.'

URGENT: Tell all contacts from your list not to accept a video called the dance of the Pope. It is a virus that formats your mobile. Beware it is very dangerous. They announced it today on the radio. Pass on to as many as you can. It was announced on the radio in USA. Copy n paste
Hello All, i received this URGENT warning- To NOT accept a video called the dance of the Pope. It is a virus that formats your mobile. Beware is very dangerous. You have fun with your list already, people open it thinking that it is a joke. They are spreading it today on the radio. Pass it on to those who can

Collected via e-mail, April 2015

Rating

Origin

In early April 2015, several rumors warning mobile phone users of a malware attachment known as the Dance of the Pope (later Dance of the Hillary) began to circulate. Many versions claimed the Dance of the Pope was an infected attachment (often a GIF or video), and that users who opened the file using services such as BlackBerry Messenger or WhatsApp risked the loss of all their cell phone data.

A common thread in the rumors was its source: most claimed the Dance of the Pope virus was reported on the radio. Although most mentioned that the virus was discussed on the radio, none said that the posters themselves had heard it. Folks spreading the rumor believed others had heard about the virus on the radio; but none of the major versions involved the person spreading the rumor having personally listened to a news report.

We found no information suggesting the Dance of the Pope virus warning was anything but a rumor. No radio stations were linked to the purported announcement; no news outlets reported the story; none of the antivirus companies had heard of it; and, most tellingly, no one appeared to have experienced the virus on his own device. If the virus were real, many users would have encountered and unwittingly opened the attachment despite the circulating warning by now.

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