When machines cause panic

In a lot of countries, there’s a clever alerting system which sends texts to everyone if bad things happen. Alerts can be issued by the totally sane and completely normal US President, or by various agencies if there’s an imminent threat to life. You can receive extreme threats and severe threats, but at 08:07 (local) in Hawaii on Saturday, the brown stuff hit the fan.

The message that appeared on phones across Hawaii was alarming and petrifying, especially considering the fact that North Korea have been building up their Nuclear arsenal and President Trump is having some sort of public meltdown on a daily basis.

The message read…

Ballistic missile threat inbound to Hawaii. Seek immediate shelter. This is not a drill.

It cause a wave of panic across the state, an was not corrected for a full 38 minutes. The reason, according to a subsequent investigation, is that an employee at Hawaii’s Emergency Management Agency messed up during a shift change. Checks to protect against it, with screen prompts requesting confirmation, were passed through and the emergency message was sent out, causing terror and hysteria.


Since then, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) have stated that the error was “absolutely unacceptable” and the delay in correcting the text made things worse.

Hawaii’s Governor, David Ige, apologised afterwards, telling reporters that a member of staff had “pressed the wrong button”.