PS4 gamers beware, a message is going around that will crash your console and potentially force you to perform a factory reset. Warnings on Reddit have highlighted the issue and have given PS4 gamers insight into how to protect themselves from the bug and recover if you are affected. The bug, in some instances, has been used during matches to cause the opposing team to crash and be unable to complete a match. The message received is pictured below, and the box with a question mark in it contains a null character that causes the PS4 to become unstable.
Reddit users have given directions on how they have recovered from the crash. Some are having to factory reset their consoles, but some have been able to avoid doing that by installing the Sony PS4 Messaging app on their smartphone, and deleting the offending message using the app before they power their console on and sign into the PlayStation Network. Sony's PS4 Messaging app is free to download and offered for both iOS and Android devices.
If you haven't been affected by this bug and want to protect yourself, the way to do that is to restrict messaging on your console to PlayStation 4 to friends only. This change is accomplished by going to "Personal Info | Messages" via the Sony Entertainment Network website and clicking the edit button near Messages to change your default settings. Options for that setting include allowing messages from anyone, friends only, or no one. If you have trustworthy friends, selecting friends only will do the trick.
This can be done on your console as well via Settings - Account Management - Privacy Settings. You can choose "Personal Info | Messages" from there and choose from the same options mentioned previously. Reports indicate that some PS4 consoles continue to operate unstably even after the message is deleted; in that instance a rebuild of the PS4 system database has been reported to fix any lingering issues.
The first step for a database rebuild is to boot the console into safe mode; Sony has instructions for booting into safe mode here. Once the database rebuild is underway, it will scan the drive and create a new database of content installed on the system. Sony does warn that the procedure could take a long time depending on the type and number of data items on the console. Sony says that this rebuild might also help PS4 owners having issues like game freezes or frame rate drops. Sony has offered no indication of when it will issue a fix to prevent the rogue message from bricking consoles.