Killer messages on Sony PlayStation 4 and how to deal with them

One short message is enough to send a Sony PS4 into an infinite restart loop. Here’s how to deal with it.

Not everyone knows that Sony PlayStation 4 (PS4) has its own instant messenger: PlayStation Messages. There are also app versions for Android and iOS, so that it can be used not only on the console itself. I, for one, had no idea about it, even though I own a PlayStation.

Turns out, though, sending a short message (any piece of text followed by a special Unicode character and the heart emoji) to this messenger is enough to send the poor PS4 into an infinite reboot loop.

Reddit users first drew attention to the issue, after which it was picked up by news media. The worst thing is that the message doesn’t even need to be opened. When it is received, first the controller stops responding, then the sound switches off, and finally, the console crashes and starts rebooting endlessly. Players who get one of these messages at a crucial moment in a game probably won’t be jumping for joy.

But there’s good news. First, Sony confirms that it has already fixed the error, so the next firmware update should be the end of it.

Second, even if your console got stuck in a cyclic reboot, it can be restored to life. To do so:

  1. Install the PS Messages app on your phone (Android or iOS).
  2. Delete the malicious message using the PS Messages mobile app.
  3. On the console, start up in Safe Mode (here‘s how) and select Rebuild Database (option 5).
  4. Now, the console should start as if nothing had happened.

One last thing. Even if you haven’t encountered this problem yourself, you can take preemptive action to make sure you never do. To do so:

  1. Go to the console settings.
  2. Select Account Management -> Privacy Settings. At this point, a password is required.
  3. Select Messages, followed by Friends or No One in the drop-down menu.
  4. Now, strangers will not be able to send you messages, killer or otherwise. Better safe than sorry.