Hawaiians and tourists received a text-message Saturday morning notifying them that an intercontinental ballistic missile was heading straight towards them, meaning their lives were in imminent danger.
"Emergency Alert: BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL," read the text message at approximately at 8:07 HST.
Suddenly, people took Twitter to gain confirmation that the threat was real.
Just got this amber alert?!? pic.twitter.com/DWkbane0HK— Jefferson Bethke (@JeffersonBethke) January 13, 2018
So either there's a missile heading toward Hawaii or Hawaii's missile alert system is malfunctioning. Neither of these is a good thing.— Matt Lindner (@mattlindner) January 13, 2018
6 mins into our ride here in Hawaii and this is the text I just received? Not sure what to do. Sirens are going off. pic.twitter.com/D5USDAw3wp— Emily Batty (@emilybatty) January 13, 2018
However, Hawaii Senator Tulsi Gabbard (D), quickly confirmed that this was a false alarm.
HAWAII - THIS IS A FALSE ALARM. THERE IS NO INCOMING MISSILE TO HAWAII. I HAVE CONFIRMED WITH OFFICIALS THERE IS NO INCOMING MISSILE. pic.twitter.com/DxfTXIDOQs— Tulsi Gabbard (@TulsiGabbard) January 13, 2018
NO missile threat to Hawaii.— Hawaii EMA (@Hawaii_EMA) January 13, 2018
The mobile alert received in Hawaii -- which was mistakenly sent -- warned that a "ballistic missile threat" was "inbound to Hawaii" and it was "not a drill."— NBC News (@NBCNews) January 13, 2018
"I have confirmed with officials there is no incoming missile," Rep. Gabbard quickly tweeted.
It is unclear how this message was accidentally sent. It appears that it was actually a drill, but was never meant to actually be sent to anybody's iphone. The alert, officially known as a Wireless Emergency Alert, is typically used to warn of extreme weather conditions, terrorist attacks, and amber alerts for missing children. While typically life saving, today's events show how dangerous it can be when there is an error made in transmitting these warnings to the vast public. It also raises privacy concerns, as to how exactly the government has access to everybody's smartphone and if it should at all.
This post will be updated when more information becomes available.