PlayStation 4 users are claiming that they are receiving messages that are preventing them from using their consoles.
In several threads on the r/PS4 Reddit board, users are reporting that they are receiving messages through the console’s messaging application that are hard locking their consoles. The stories all follow a similar pattern: users receive a message, their controllers and sound outputs fail, and resetting the console results in continual error loops.
While the exact cause is unclear, many users in the Reddit thread have likened the exploit to previous messaging exploits such as this one from 2015 in which a unique string of characters could crash an iPhone. In describing the PS4 message, one player wrote that it was merely a question mark in a box, suggesting that the malicious messages cannot even be displayed by the PS4.
Some users have claimed that doing a factory reset will delete the message and fix the problem, while others have claimed that the only way to fix the error is to delete the message using the PlayStation mobile app or by logging into the account from a browser and deleting the message that way.
It does seem that the exploit is purely text-based, so changing your PlayStation messenger privacy settings should prevent it from happening. You can do that by going to Account Management in your console Settings, heading to the Privacy Settings submenu, and changing Messaging settings to “Friends Only” or “No One,” meaning that only your pre-selected friends or no one at all can message you.
Kotaku has reached out to Sony for comment but they did not respond in time for publication. We will update this story in the event that they do.