A website that crashes the Safari web browser is making the rounds on social media. The name of the site, crashsafari.com (don’t click!), makes its intentions pretty obvious, of course. But pranksters can use a URL shortener like bit.ly to obfuscate the URL and then trick their victims into clicking. Doing so will indeed crash your browser, but there isn’t permanent damage.
On iOS devices, the browser will crash and/or your phone may reboot, according to users’ reports. Meanwhile, on the desktop, the browser will hang requiring you to force quit the browser instead.
Twitter users have been posting the link alongside juicy clickbait, in attempts to get their followers to crash their browsers. But the native Twitter iOS app is now warning about the link when clicked, saying that it has been identified as “being potentially harmful.” That will likely prevent the prank from blowing up further on its platform, though it’s still possible for friends to text each other the link privately. So be warned.
The Chrome browser on Windows, Mac, iOS and Android is also affected by CrashSafari, though the system doesn’t reboot in that case. (We should also note that clicking the link from iOS’s latest beta build only crashed the browser – the phone didn’t restart).
The prank website is hardly the first to use a bug in the browser to wreak havoc on end users’ devices. In 2013, for example, a text string was discovered that could crash Safari, too.
However, this new trick is nowhere near as serious as the bug that was crashing iPhones last year by way of text messages. In that case, as you may recall, Apple had to step in with a fix for the problem – not only by patching the bug, but also offering removal instructions for those already affected.