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Warnings describing a virus that has been disguised as a video called ‘Dance with the Pope’ is spreading across the Internet. According to the warning, “accepting” the video results in a complete format of your mobile phone. The warning asserts that the virus warning was “announced on the radio today”.

Whilst spreading in a number of different variants, this one below appears to be the most common –

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. Fwd this msg to as many as you can!

(A 2016 version of this hoax also includes the persistent “Jessica Christopher Davies hacker warning” hoax attached to it, which is also nonsense.)

A later, popular variant of the warning changed the word “Pope” with “Hillary”.

This warning – along with its different variants – appear all to be hoaxes. The Internet is littered with spoof virus hoaxes, a niche of online nonsense that has the dubious honour of being amongst the first types of hoaxes to fool the masses on the Internet. This specific version appears to merely be a continuation of this type of nonsense.

These rumours often attempt to gain credibility by asserting that the virus has been announced by the media or authorities, and in this instance the claim that it has been “on the radio” is used, but rather conveniently lacking the most important information – what radio station and when. Information that would be invaluable when trying to confirm the validity of the claims.

Ultimately this is just another baseless warning, detailing a virus that simply does not exist. We have been unable to find anyone who has actually been infected with a virus described in the message, just people who claim it happened to a “friend of a friend”, and the warning fails to describe what it means by “accepting a video” which in itself is a rather ambiguous phrase.

Of course you should be careful when downloading files or opening attachments on either your mobile or desktop, but spreading misleading and vague information like this warning is just counterproductive.

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