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Cell Phone 'Virus' Prank Causing Hysteria in Pakistan
[April 13, 2007]

Cell Phone 'Virus' Prank Causing Hysteria in Pakistan

TMCnet Assignment Editor
You probably already know that you can pick up bad germs from sitting on a toilet seat in a public restroom - but did you also know that deadly viruses can be transmitted into your body through your cell phone?

Well, of course, neither of those things is true … but try explaining that to the people in Pakistan who are freaking out right now because of a prank message they received stating that they could die from a virus being transmitted via their mobile phones. According to a Reuters report, a “prankster” sent millions of mobile phone subscribers a bogus message that 20 people had been killed by a “mobile virus” and they should be aware of God’s wrath.

The rumor - kind of based on the concept of the movie “The Ring,” where people die a week after watching a video - was so effective that some mosques in the country’s biggest city, Karachi, repeated the message to their followers. Apparently, this has resulted in panic among some of the country’s 52 million mobile phone users.

In the Reuters’ report, a spokeswoman for Warid Telecom confirmed that the carrier’s customer service centers had been “inundated” with subscribers inquiring about the so-called “virus.” Cellular operators are reportedly trying to calm down subscribers by telling them that the rumors “are completely baseless” and “do not make any sense in technological terms.”

And while people in the U.S. and elsewhere chuckle about this completely bogus threat and the resulting reaction, the mobile service providers - and particularly those who work in their customer service centers – certainly aren’t laughing.


Patrick Barnard is Assignment Editor for TMCnet and a columnist covering the telecom industry. To see more of his articles, please visit Patrick Barnard’s columnist page.

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