PlayStation 4 players are seemingly having their consoles made useless by messages from malicious users while online, but there’s a quick way to avoid the issue entirely.
The most popular thread on the PS4 Reddit contains a warning to users to set their messages to private after they received a message from someone they were playing Rainbow Six Siege with. “A player from the other team used a dummy account to send the message and crashed my entire team,” says Reddit user huntstark. “We all have had to factory reset. Only one of our guys wasn’t affected and he has his messages private.”
The problem seems to arise from an exploit in the PS4 software code that lets malicious players use a specific character or characters the PS4’s code doesn’t recognize (which all default to a question mark inside of a box, which looks like this: ⍰) to crash another player’s console. Because it has to do with characters being displayed on screen, simply receiving the message notification, or having the message on your console is enough to cause it crash and require a reset to fix. This is likely what is causing the issue, which multiple players in the Reddit thread have reported happening to them while playing various games. “Happened to me in [Rocket League] too,” reports user iamnotacrazyperson. “Exactly the same thing – got a message, controller stopped working and audio cut out. Full reset hasn’t fixed it – whenever I try and log into my PSN it crashes again.”
The easiest solution to this issue, if you haven’t already been hit by a message, is to remove the ability for random users to send you a message, like so:
- Go to main menu tab on the PS4 home screen (up on the d-pad).
- Go to the “Settings” button.
- Head to “Account Management” (the one with your profile picture next to it).
- Go to “Privacy Settings,” then enter your PSN password as normal.
- Go to “Personal Info.”
- Go to “Messages.” In the drop-down menu, select either “Friends Only” if you trust everyone on your friends list not to send you this kind of message, or “No One,” just to be extra-sure.
It should also without saying not to accept friend requests from people you don’t know for the time being, or really, ever. Some users are reporting that they’ve received friend request messages with the special characters in them as well.
If you’ve already been affected by a message, it may be possible to fix the issue by downloading the official PlayStation App on iOS/Android, viewing the message that crashed your console there (look for the ⍰ symbol), then deleting it. However, some users have reported this fix didn’t work for them, so your mileage may vary.
We’ve reached out to Sony about whether it is aware of the issue and if it plans to take action against users who used the text exploit and will update this article should they reply.