Admin staff at social networking sites have been forced to withdraw 'Smileys' and 'Emoticons' from chat rooms and discussion boards in a desperate bid to halt the spread of a potentially dangerous virus.
Smiley's are tiny animated characters that are used to indicate a chat room member's mood or opinion, in recent years Smilies have been replaced with even more detailed and expressive moving icons that appear to do everything from typing on a keyboard to laughing or crying hysterically at another forum user's comments.
Will Walsh is the 'Head Smiliecon moderator' for 'Bebo Ireland' and has worked at the networking giant's 37 storey, state of the art world headquarters in Strokestown, Co. Roscommon for over three years, he makes no apology for the decision to quarantine the smilies.
"It had to be done, no question. We had been monitoring a minor case of the sniffles on a Category 3 cheerleader icon called 'Miley', on a user home page in Dublin but unfortunately one of our moderators was caught with his pants down on another site in the early hours during which time the smiley's condition deteriorated rapidly until the poor little smudgy was lovingly and compassionately removed by our 'Aunty Virus' software.
We have every confidence that the Smiley will make a full recovery under Aunty Vi's care and be back on screen, shaking her little pompoms as soon as she feels up to it."
Facebook's press office issued a statement shortly afterwards-
"We have audited our servers and we are now fully satisfied that the affected 'Bebo' user and her infected Smiley have not been in contact with any of our user profiles through Email or other unencrypted thingimebobs.
We have, however, as a precautionary measure, slaughtered over 200,000 Smiley's in both Ireland and the United Kingdom."
Aunty Virus was unimpressed. "I think they're over reacting meself, couple of days and she'll be right as rain but she'll have to cover up a bit more, It's only a touch of flu. Anyway, nothing to worry about. It's hardly the end of the world."