1946: Hawaii

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
Revision as of 14:12, 24 January 2018 by (talk) (Explanation)
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Ok, I've got it, just need to plug in my security key. Hmm, which way does the USB go? Nope, not that way. I'll just flip it and-€“ OH JEEZ IT FELL INTO THE VENT.
Title text: Ok, I've got it, just need to plug in my security key. Hmm, which way does the USB go? Nope, not that way. I'll just flip it and-€“ OH JEEZ IT FELL INTO THE VENT.


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On January 13, 2018 an emergency alert for the state of Hawaii was sent out warning of an incoming ballistic missile attack. The message was specifically noted to NOT be a drill, and this caused widespread panic and fear amongst the island residents. It was eventually determined that the alert was sent in error -- the explanation is that a technician accidentally sent out the "real" version when they were supposed to just be testing the system during an end-of-shift changeover -- but the fact that it took half an hour for the correction to be sent drew widespread criticism. Many people had already begun panic reactions, and there were follow-up confirmations from local entities who thought the original warning was real.

On January 23, it was revealed that the reason it took so long for a correction to be sent out was that the governor of Hawaii -- who knew the alert was a false alarm only two minutes after it was sent -- had forgotten his login information for his twitter account.

This comic shows Cueball, representing the governor, frantically trying to log in to twitter and being stymied by the security features. Off-panel, another person is screaming at him that people are beginning to panic and warning sirens are going off, underscoring the need to get the correction out as fast as possible.


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OMG - so funny, so timely, so close to home. One of our modern fears, in a crisis what would happen if I forgot the password! Rtanenbaum (talk) 14:02, 24 January 2018 (UTC)

"Created by a TWITTER" Halo422 (talk) 14:28, 24 January 2018 (UTC)

Based on the situation that xkcd is offering, it makes me look like I can't be any governor or an official, since I tend to forget my password very easily, especially my social media ones. RIP me.15:02, 24 January 2018 (UTC)

Most implausible explanation I've ever heard. Why not use something other than a Twitter account to notify people, apparently there's an entire system set up for delivering messages to people's phones, I'm not sure a tweet should be part of the official rollback process. -- Comment Police (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Implausible, yet true. It was all over the news. Twitter is currently perceived as an appropriate way to communicate with constituents by many elected officials. I agree that a reverse-911 probably would have been far more effective, but the news would give more coverage to what's on Twitter, regardless (reaches more people, if less directly or immediately, than reverse-911). ProphetZarquon (talk) 18:09, 24 January 2018 (UTC)
The issue (as I understand it) was that the send-everyone-a-text-message system was only programmed with a specific set of messages, and "oops, that was an error, ignore that" wasn't one of them. Most of those 38 minutes were spent adding that new message to the system. In the meantime, people in authority who knew there had been a mistake would have been trying to use any means they could of getting this fact out to the public, such as the governor using his official Twitter account. -- Peregrine (talk) 03:32, 25 January 2018 (UTC)
I'm someone who openly and proudly does not watch or listen to the news (my reasoning is that my knowing all the details of this fire or that hostage situation won't stop it or help it, it'll just add more negative to my life. I get headlines through ads on TV and radio, I feel that's enough for the "history repeating itself" angle), and even I caught this headline. Yeah, an incident was really made worse by a guy unable to access his Twitter. :) NiceGuy1 (talk) 06:12, 26 January 2018 (UTC)

As I am not a native Hawaiian or american, could somebody explain the nature of this warning system please? Does it work with a speaker / sirene system (as is common in Europe) or with text / CB messages? Why was it installed, what is the name of this system etc. That information might give the uninitiated some background information needed to fully understand this comic. 22:00, 24 January 2018 (UTC)

The Hawaii state Emergency Alert system is multilayered. This event started with a text message, sent (in error) to phones. The text message was picked up by broadcast media (radio, television). There is also a siren system, reportedly a separate authorization is required to activate it. In some places, Honolulu especially, the sirens were sounded, apparently without the appropriate authorization. In others, such as Hawaii Island where I live, the sirens did not go off. Official channels did not retract the error until 38 minutes after the initial text. Though Governor Ige did not get his tweet sent, other officials, such as US Rep Tulsi Gabbard, did do so, to little effect. It's therefore an open question whether Ige's message would have made much of a difference.-- 22:48, 24 January 2018 (UTC)
Thank you for the explanation. This, and reading a couple of news articles about it made me got a much clearer picture. It also really drives home how important the work of an UI designer is. 08:50, 28 January 2018 (UTC)
(same user, but apparently a different IP)

USB plugs are 4 dimensional... see https://www.smbc-comics.com/?id=2388. ——

i use android, and am thus irrelevant. but, the twitter app does not seem, uniquely, to allow the caching of passwords and thus requires you to log in every time. assuming i'm not mistaken in this, does the iOS equivalent also require this? -- 13:09, 26 January 2018 (UTC)

I slept through that whole mess because the siren didn't sound where I live. Thankfully, I woke up in a universe where Trump was too busy golfing to start WWIII by mistake. -- 00:16, 27 January 2018 (UTC)