Internet pranksters never take a break, and they are very happy to trick the unwary into breaking things, like expensive Apple products. Which is exactly what could happen if you fall for a particularly insidious hoax that's been making the rounds. It promises a sweet, retro theme for your i-Whatever if you reset the device's clock to January 1, 1970—but what really happens is you end up with a shiny, aesthetically appealing paperweight.
Wired's Brian Barrett explains:
Do not do this! Firstly because it makes no sense, Apple didn’t even exist until 1976. More importantly, though, don’t do it because it will turn your iPhone into a very expensive rock until you’re able to finagle a Genius Bar appointment. Restoring through iTunes won’t help. You’ll need an actual physical fix, or possibly a new phone.
In the DNA of the software that runs a certain set of iOS devices—"iPhone 5S, iPad Air, and iPad Mini 2 and newer" according to Barrett—setting 1/1/70 as a date essentially zeroes out the system. The software doesn't know what to do, and everything stops cold.
The source of the hoax is this admittedly convincing image, which several sources indicate probably came from the Internet Institute for Mayhem and Chicanery also known as 4Chan.
Our conclusion isn't really any different from anyone else's: why the hell would anyone do this?
Hopefully warnings like this weren't really needed in the first place, but better safe than sorry. It would be sad to murder a phone this way. All your friends are in there.