On the morning of Saturday, Jan. 13, residents were in disarray when Hawaii’s Emergency Management Agency (HI-EMA) mistakenly sent an alert to their phones at 8:07 a.m. warning of a missile threat.
The message, which also aired on TV and radio stations across the state, read, “EMERGENCY ALERT BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.”
As Reuters stated, this alert came amid tensions over North Korea’s development of ballistic nuclear weapons.
At 8:10, Gov. David Ige (D) was informed that it was in fact a false alarm, but he didn’t tell the public via Twitter until 8:24 when he retweeted the HI-EMA account’s notification sent out four minutes prior.
There is NO missile threat. https://t.co/qR2MlYAYxL
— Governor David Ige (@GovHawaii) January 13, 2018
Ige revealed that the false missile alert was sent during a shift change and that an employee pushed the wrong button.
Ige later tweeted a series of posts from a statement shared to Facebook that began, “Today is a day most of us will never forget. A terrifying day when our worst nightmares appeared to become a reality. A day where we frantically grabbed what we could, tried to figure out how and where to shelter and protect ourselves and our ohana, said our ‘I love yous,’ and prayed for peace.”
“I know firsthand how today’s false notification affected all of us here in Hawai’i, and I am sorry for the pain and confusion it caused,” the note continued. “I, too, am extremely upset about this and am doing everything I can to immediately improve our emergency management systems, procedures and staffing.”
He concluded the post, “We must also do what we can to demand peace and a de-escalation with North Korea, so that warnings and sirens can become a thing of the past.”
The following day he shared a lengthy apology to Facebook — which he, again, posted in bits on Twitter, and he addressed citizens in a live broadcast Monday evening. Ige stated that they’ve established better protocols and lines of communication across their emergency management network, but acknowledged there is much to do moving forward to ensure this type of mistake never happens again.
A spokesperson for the governor told Huffington Post that his staff handles his social media accounts, and “it took time for the governor to contact us and give us the information before we could post it.”
The information Ige was looking for? His Twitter password.
After his State of the State address yesterday, Ige told reporters that he couldn’t immediately share the Jan. 13 alert update because he couldn’t log in.
“I have to confess that I don’t know my Twitter account log-ons and the passwords, so certainly that’s one of the changes that I’ve made,” Ige said, according to Huffington Post.
He continued, “I was in the process of making calls to the leadership team both in Hawaii Emergency Management as well as others. The focus really was on trying to get as many people informed about the fact that it was a false alert.”
The governor further stated that he has since saved his Twitter information on his cellphone “so that we can access the social media directly.” Though technology can be all-consuming, it’s good for two things above all else: Staying connected and keeping tabs on important info — credit scores, shopping lists and Twitter passwords alike.