The state of Hawaii was sent into a frenzy on 13 January when an alert popped up on mobile phone screens telling people that a ballistic missile was heading towards the islands.
The information was false, the islands were safe. The alert was an error, the terror was real.
After 38 minutes of frantically searching for information that would help them figure out what to do in such a grave situation, residents received a follow-up alert confirming that in fact there was no threat of being hit by a ballistic missile.
But how did such a mistake occur? How did people who were there react when they received the original message? And is it a case of “the boy who cried wolf”, where people will be slow to react to the next emergency alert warning?
To try to figure out some of the answers to these questions, Jordan Erica Webber talks to Ian Bogost, professor of media and computing at the Georgia Institute of Technology, Dr Huma Shah, senior lecturer of computing, electronics and maths at the University of Coventry, and Robin Zebrowski, who experienced firsthand what it is like to go through a false missile alert.