Hawaii Missile False Alarm
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Hawaii Missile False Alarm was an episode of mass panic prompted by a false ballistic missile alert that was issued to the residents of the state of Hawaii via TV, radio and cellphones in January 2018. The alert, which warned state residents of an impending "ballistic missile threat" and stated "this is not a drill," immediately triggered a moment of hysteria and confusion in the Hawaiian islands and on social media, before the state officials confirmed that it was a false alarm caused by human error.
On January 13th, 2018, at about 8:07am residents of the state of Hawaii received an emergency alert notification reading, "BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL."
Residents in Hawaii took the warning serious, sending panic throughout the state. Videos of people running for shelter quickly appeared online. AFP News Agency posted a video of various smart phone recordings of people running for shelter. The video (shown below) received more than 49,000 views in 24 hours.
On social media, people began tweeting their concerns about the supposedly oncoming attack. That day, Twitter user @michellebvd tweed the message with the caption "Omg." The post (shown below) received more than 1,800 retweets and 4,300 likes in 48 hours.
Additionally, people also began tweeting about saying goodbye to their loved ones and preparing for the attack. Twitter user @kxmbrly_ tweeted, "There was an Emergency alert for a missile threat in Hawaii around 8 am Hawaii time. My mom texted me around that same time, "I love you" and it's just now clicking why she randomly sent me that 😭 because she thought that was her last moments. I'm sitting at work crying." The post (shown below, left) received more than 2,800 retweets and 17,000 likes in 48 hours.
Twitter user @brynguist tweeted, ''At 8:07am everyone in Hawaii got a phone alert: BALLISTIC THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL. The next 10 minutes were the most terrifying of my life, until I finally checked twitter and saw this. But seriously, WTF just happened.'' The tweet (shown below, center) received more than 2,000 retweets and 7,000 likes in two days.
Twitter user @KPRC2Sara tweeted a text series of text's she received during the scare, including the caption "This was my phone when I woke up just now. I'm in Honolulu, #Hawaii and my family is on the North Shore. They were hiding in the garage. My mom and sister were crying. It was a false alarm, but betting a lot of people are shaken. @KPRC2" The post (shown below, right) received more than 9,900 retweets and 26,000 likes in two days.
Twitter published several Moments pages about the reaction to the alert.
News of the alert reached the front page of several subreddits. On the /r/news, the news received more than 80,000 points (89% upvoted) and 12,000 comments in two days. Additionally on /r/AskReddit, the question "People who made an impulse decision when they found out Hawaii was going to be nuked, what did you do and do you regret it?" received more than 49,000 points (86% upvoted) and 12,000 comments.
The following day, Redditor GuacamoleFanatic posted a gif of a man lowering a little girl into a storm drain for safety. The post (shown below) received more than 50,000 points (88% upvoted) and 4,700 comments in 24 hours.
On January 14th, Redditor Bbrazil97 posted a variation of the Is Now Playing meme in the /r/dankmemes subreddit. In this version, the avatar features North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and the text "The entire population of Hawaii is now playing Fallout." The post (shown below) receive ore than 23,000 points (92% upvoted) and 200 comments in 24 hours.
Pornhub Traffic Spike
At about 8:07, when the residents began receiving the missile impact warning, the adult entertainment website Pornhub  noted a significant drop in traffic in Hawaii, a 77% drop of traffic compared to a typical Saturday.. However, at 8:45am, when it was announced that the alert had been a false alarm, the website noted a massive spike in traffic. At 9:01, Pornhub saw a 48% above typical levels of traffic for a Saturday.
Several celebrities tweeted about the scare. Actor Jim Carrey tweeted, "I woke up this morning in Hawaii with ten minutes to live. It was a false alarm, but a real psychic warning. If we allow this one-man Gomorrah and his corrupt Republican congress to continue alienating the world we are headed for suffering beyond all imagination. ;^\" The tweet (shown below, left) received more than 29,000 retweets and 99,000 likes in two days.
Additionally, actor Jamie Lee Curtis tweeted, ''This Hawaii missle scare is on YOU Mr. Trump. The real FEAR that mothers & fathers & children felt is on YOU. It is on YOUR ARROGANCE. HUBRIS. NARCISSISM. RAGE. EGO. IMMATURITY and your UNSTABLE IDIOCY. Shame on your hate filled self. YOU DID THIS!'' The tweet (shown below, right) received more than 18,000 retweets and 65,000 likes in two days.
That day, about a half hour after the emergency notification was sent, Hawaii's Emergency Management Agency tweeted, "NO missile threat to Hawaii." The post (shown below) received more than 15,000 retweets and 27,000 likes in two days.
Shortly after, Hawaii Governor David Ige tweeted, "I am meeting this morning with top officials of the State Department of Defense and the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency to determine what caused this morning’s false alarm and to prevent it from happening again." The tweet (shown below) received more than 700 retweets and 2,500 likes in two days.
Governor Ige later confirmed that the false alarm went out by mistake, human error. He said, "It was a mistake made during a standard procedure at the change over of a shift, and an employee pushed the wrong button."
Hawaii's Emergency Management Agency Controversy
On January 15th, the Honolulu Civil Beat news outlet tweeted a screenshot of the alleged screen that set off the false alarm. They wrote, "This is the screen that set off the ballistic missile alert on Saturday. The operator clicked the PACOM (CDW) State Only link. The drill link is the one that was supposed to be clicked. #Hawaii" Within four days, the tweet (shown below) received more than 5,500 retweets and 6,400 likes.
The following day, on January 16th, Twitter user @0x7fff9 tweeted a section of a picture from July 2017 (shown below, left) of a computer within the Hawaiian Emergency Management offices, showing what appears to be a password written on Post-It note stuck to a computer. The tweet (shown below, right) also included the caption, "Hawaiian Emergency Management Officials have Post-It notes of legible passwords on their computer screens 🤷♀️." Within three days, the tweet received more than 600 retweets and 1,000 likes.
On January 17th, the State of Hawaii responded to the claims about the display screen, stating that that is not the user interface found on their systems. Honolulu tweeted a picture of their response with the caption "Now the State of Hawaii is saying the original screenshot shared with the media is merely an example and has shared a second image saying it is another example of the user interface. Neither screenshot shows the actual interface used by the operator. " The post (shown below) received more than 100 retweets and 100 likes in two days.
Virtually every major news outlet covered the false alarm including, CNN, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, The New York Times and more.
 CNN – Missile threat alert for Hawaii a false alarm; officials blame employee who pushed 'wrong button'
 YouTube – Hawaii panics after false alert of incoming missile
 Twitter – @michellebvd's Tweet
 Twitter – @kxmbrly_'s Tweet
 Twitter – @brynguist's Tweet
 Twitter – @KPRC2Sara's Tweet
 Twitter – @Hawaii_EMA's Tweet
 Twitter – @GovHawaii's Tweet
 CNN – Hawaii has been preparing for a missile attack, but now its credibility is under fire
 The Washington Post – Hawaii missile alert: How one employee ‘pushed the wrong button’ and caused a wave of panic
 The Atlantic – Pandemonium and Rage in Hawaii
 The New York Times – Hawaii Panics After Alert About Incoming Missile Is Sent in Error
 Twitter – False alarm 'missile threat' sends people in Hawaii into panic
 Twitter – Thirty minutes of panic and fear in Hawaii
 Reddit – Emergency alert about ballistic missile sent to Hawaii residents; EMA says ‘no threat’
 Reddit – People who made an impulse decision when they found out Hawaii was going to be nuked, what did you do and do you regret it?
 Reddit – Video From Hawaii Children Being Placed Into Storm Drains After False Alert Sent Out
 Twitter – @JimCarrey's Tweet
 Twitter – @jamieleecurtis' Tweet
 Reddit – Press F to pay respects
 Pornhub – Hawaii on Alert
 Twitter – @0x7fff9's Tweet
 AP – AP's Photograph
 Twitter – @CivilBeat's Tweet
 Twitter – @CivilBeat's Tweet
Jan 15, 2018 at 03:51PM EST
Jan 19, 2018 at 11:15AM EST in reply to
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