In July 2017, WhatsApp users began spotting a message claiming that a “video filming” known as “Popcorn Carnival” (or “Carnaval de las palomitas”) was “hacking” phones:
There is a video filming going around on Whatsapp called “Popcorn Carnival”. Do not open it under any circumstances. Be warned. It will Hack your phone in seconds and you cannot stop it in anyway. Please forward to your contacts as soon as possible.
received this whatsapp a dozen times already today and wanted it validified
Thanks for your very useful service.
The rumor is that “Carnaval de las palomitas” is going around in Whatsapp and will hack your phone instantly!
Versions of the warning circulated on Facebook as well as WhatsApp, but nothing that we found included any explanation about what sort of risk the “hacking” of phones might pose.
It appears the warning began circulating among Spanish-speaking users of WhatsApp. Following a 2 July 2017 post about “security myths” on the Internet and a subsequent post about WhatsApp, Spain’s Policía Nacional cautioned:
— Policía Nacional (@policia) July 4, 2017
The “Carnaval de palomitas” or “Popcorn Carnival” WhatsApp hoax bears similarities to the older “Dance of the Pope” rumor. As we noted of that iteration:
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.