How to fix the nasty prank going around that breaks the iPhone Messages app

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Steve Kovach

If you own an iPhone, be very careful if you receive a text message with a contact card attached.

There’s a prank going around where a single text message or iMessage can freeze an unsuspecting user’s iPhone messages app, rendering it unusable. Even rebooting your iPhone doesn’t fix the problem.

The prank first surfaced in a video from jailbreak researcher vincedes3, who also wrote about recreating the issue on their blog.

Basically, a specific contact card – a .vcf file – can be sent through an iMessage or MMS. When the victim taps on the card, their messages go haywire, and won’t respond to any taps.

The easy way to avoid being a victim is to simply avoid any contact cards you are sent, and delete the threads as soon as possible.

The bug even affects iPhones with the most recent version of iOS, 10.2. Some people are reporting the prank affects Android phones, too.

Luckily, there is a way to fix your phone if you’ve already been affected.

Here’s how it works

Basically, a prankster sends a contact card – the example vincedes3 posted on their site doesn’t actually have any executable code or actual information.

Here’s what the message looks like. Don’t tap it:

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BI/Screenshot

The card is comprised of a lot of nonsense text, which overwhelms your iPhone’s messages app.

Here’s what it looks like in a text editor:

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Screenshot

The damage is done when that card is sent to an unsuspecting user, and they try to interact with it.

At first, the Messages app slows down. But then it stops responding to touch or taps entirely.

How to fix the problem:

The author of the prank has two possible solutions, but only one worked for me when I was trying to recreate the bug.

First, vincedes3 recommends visiting an HTML link on your iPhone. It is supposed to open a new text message, which frees up the Messages app enough for you to send and receive texts. Make sure to delete the thread with the cursed contact card.

But that didn’t work for me.

However, a different approach did work: Simply ask Siri on the affected phone to send a text message. The words don’t matter. Tap on the message on the Siri screen, and it will bring you into the Messages app, in which you can navigate again.

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BI/Screenshot

Delete the cursed contact card, and you’re back in business.

The original video: