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Guy claims to delete his whole company — turns out it’s a hoax

Your week wasn’t worse than this guy’s — unless you also pretended to delete your entire company, and the work of hundreds of customers, with a single line of code. And then were found out after major news outlets picked up on your fake woe is me story.

Updated on 4-17-2016 by Lulu Chang: Marco Marsala’s alleged company deletion was nothing more than a marketing hoax.

Marco Marsala, who runs a web hosting company, claimed to make a fatal flaw that managed to delete the data of not only his own service, but that of his clients as well. Included in his code was the command “rm -rf,” which effectively tells a computer to delete just about everything. “Rm” is the remove command, “r” specifies everything within a directory, and “f” forces the command to push past the normal blockers that would prevent such a disaster from occurring. 

The small business owner then posted his alleged mistake to Server Fruit, a server forum. “I run a small hosting provider with more or less 1,535 customers and I use Ansible to automate some operations to be run on all servers,” he wrote. “Last night, I accidentally ran, on all servers, a Bash script with a rm -rf {foo}/{bar} with those variables undefined due to a bug in the code above this line.”

“All servers got deleted and the offsite backups too because the remote storage was mounted just before by the same script (that is a backup maintenance script). How I can recover from a rm -rf / now in a timely manner?”

Apparently, none of this was true.

On Friday, Stack Overflow, the organization behind the forum, told its members they’d been played. The cry for help “was actually just a hoax in some kind of viral marketing effort,” Stack Overflow said, explaining that an Italian newspaper picked up on the joke, and that Marsala told the publication, “it was just a joke.”

“The moderators on Server Fault have been in contact with the author about this, and as you can imagine, they’re not particularly amused by it,” Stack Overflow said in a statement.

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We should have known it was too good to be true when Marsala claimed that he had a happy ending to his original story. “We consulted a data recovery company who analyzed one of our 1,500 server disks for a reasonable fee, and after diagnoses, sent … a list of recoverable files. All files are here. Now we’re finding the money to pay [them] for all our servers.” Marsala wrote in an update.

Yeah, because they were never gone to begin with.