A warning has circulated on Facebook for three years running that warns users to avoid a “Christmas tree app” that will supposedly infect and crash their computers if downloaded. The warning, which users are encouraged to paste and spread to their friends, reads:
“WARNING!!!!!! ….. Do not use the Christmas tree app. on Facebook. Please be advised it will crash your computer. Geek squad says its one of the WORST trojan-viruses there is and it is spreading quickly… Re-post and let your friends know ;-}”
When the “warning” was first spread in 2010, Geek Squad issued an official response, saying that they had not found any such virus. Indeed, this supposed bad app doesn’t seem to exist at all. There are many Christmas tree apps available on Facebook, and some of them behave in a spammy fashion, but it’s likely that this message is and always has been a fake.
While there’s nothing inherently dangerous about sharing this message with your friends, it does spread misinformation that can muddy the waters and make it more difficult for officials to identify and target real viruses. Anytime you see a message like this purporting to be from a reputable source, do a little research of your own before sharing it. The less Facebook users believe these transparently fake messages, the easier it will be to rid Facebook of such hoaxes permanently.