There’s a mysterious Instagram story circulating that will freeze your phone

Sandra Salathe
Wednesday 12 May 2021 08:39
Science and Tech
There's a mysterious Instagram story circulating that will brick your phone(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Be careful on social media - there’s a bizarre Instagram story out there that will freeze your iPhone upon watching it.

YouTuber Mrwhosetheboss, whose real name is Arun Maini, was able to solve the mystery behind the issue, taking viewers down a dizzying maze of technological logistics.

The Instagram video, for those who’ve been fortunate not to have viewed it, can be found on the Instagram account @pgtalal. Now, unless you want your phone to automatically freeze, we advise you not to go looking for the story.

While the story merely shows one line of Arabic amidst a grey backdrop, iPhone users quickly discovered their device froze immediately after viewing the story.

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“Here is the top level summary. There is an account called @pgtalal. He has two main Instagram stories on his page, and if you click them, you will have a wildly different experience depending on what kind of device you’re on,” Maini explained in a YouTube video.

For those using an Android, users will see ‘a plain purple screen with confetti’, and hear a song called”Your Love.” Ok, that’s not eerie at all. Those using an iPhone will see a grey screen emblazoned with a line of Arabic text, and will be left with a ‘completely unresponsive’ phone.

In order to test out the reaction, Maini installed Instagram on several smartphones and discovered each of the iPhones crashed as soon as the story was opened - even high end ones. Maini noted that flagship Android phones survived the test, while mid-range smartphones struggled to remain responsive. As for cheap Android phones, those had a similar reaction to the iPhones, crashing immediately upon viewing the story.

After conducting his series of tests, Maini reached out to Ananay Arora, an undergraduate security research assistant at Arizona State University. Both combined their skills and eventually found that the error occurred because @pgtalal used an HTTP proxy to manipulate the width and height of the UI elements of the story.

If you’re scratching your head from the tech jargon, you’re not alone.

Maini eventually unmasked @pgtalal as a 14-year-old boy after he replied Maini. Supposedly, the teen had been coding since he was 11 and was bored after being stuck in quarantine due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some people bake immense amounts of banana bread, others decide to get up to a bit of mischief, coding-style. Who are we to judge?

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