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Date Posted:
22 January 2018

Bad UI caused an emergency alert to be sent to every smart phone in Hawaii. The interesting thing is what people did when they got given the all clear.

Missile panic
You’ll have heard about the UI blamed mistake this week that caused Haitians to panic thinking a missile strike was coming to get them.

The computer system that allows the agency that manages emergencies in Hawaii to send broadcast messages asks employees to select the type of message from a drop down. They get two options for missile alerts, so the Washington Post says.

There’s two options. One is called a “missile alert”. Picking this immediately sends an alert to every mobile in Hawaii telling people to find shelter immediately. The other will test the warning system is working without actually making everyone in Hawaii think they’re about to die. Unfortunately, the employee chose the first option.

As we all know by now, it was a drill. The difference between the two choices was just one word. The bloke responsible has been moved to a different department, but surely it’s the UI that should be reassigned, not the poor man who messed up thanks to the awful UI?

But, you all knew about all that already. What you might have missed is what people actually did when the “whoops, that was a mistake” message was sent. People had, rightly, run for cover in shelters and storm drains. Hiding, there, quaking with fear. Then, a second message was sent telling people everything was fine and it was a mistake. What would you do?

It’s the end of the world (and I feel fine)

Many, many people decided to take matters into their own hands.

Pornhub has released data showing that their traffic dropped by 80% when the alert went out. Not surprising really. What happened next is the interesting part. When that second message was sent out saying it was a false alarm, something unexpected happened. Pornhub had a huge spike in their traffic.

As you can see, 15 minutes after the “it’s all OK” message was sent, there was a 50% increase to traffic compared to a regular, non-missiley day.

“Oh thank god, we’re not going to die, so let’s go and watch some consenting adults be rude”, said lots of people in Hawaii.

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