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Hawaii Governor Didn't Correct False Missile Alert Sooner Because He Didn't Know His Twitter Password (washingtonpost.com) 189

An anonymous reader shares a WashingtonPost report: Minutes after the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency mistakenly sent a missile alert at 8:07 a.m. on Jan. 13 -- terrifying residents and visitors across the state -- some officials, such as Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, rushed to Twitter to reassure everyone it was a mistake. But one Twitter account was deafeningly silent for 17 minutes: that of Hawaii Gov. David Ige. Though Ige was informed by the state's adjutant general that the alert was false two minutes after it was sent, he waited until 8:24 a.m. to tweet, "There is NO missile threat." On Monday, after he gave the State of the State address in which he avoided the subject of the missile alert fiasco, reporters demanded an explanation for that long silence. Ige's answer: He couldn't log in to Twitter. "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.
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Hawaii Governor Didn't Correct False Missile Alert Sooner Because He Didn't Know His Twitter Password

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  • by JoeyRox ( 2711699 ) on Tuesday January 23, 2018 @09:48AM (#55985501)
    Why would he rely exclusively on Twitter when there's an entire industry whose job it is to disseminate information?
    • by the_skywise ( 189793 ) on Tuesday January 23, 2018 @09:51AM (#55985525)
      Hear hear!
      It's astonishing that he thinks a simple "I forgot my password, teacher" is a proper excuse for failing to inform people that they're NOT about to be nuked into oblivion!
      • by kelemvor4 ( 1980226 ) on Tuesday January 23, 2018 @10:44AM (#55985959)

        Hear hear! It's astonishing that he thinks a simple "I forgot my password, teacher" is a proper excuse for failing to inform people that they're NOT about to be nuked into oblivion!

        It's more amazing to me that anyone would expect a governor to use twitter to notify people about anything. Government folks shouldn't be using partisan websites to disseminate information, they should be using acceptable and established channels. In other news, the governor of Hawaii still hasn't posted to Slashdot on the matter. Maybe the misses are still inbound.. sheesh.

        He should have issued a quick news conference and or radio broadcast. If it was more important than that, then the Emergency Alert System. That's my opinion.

        • by skids ( 119237 ) on Tuesday January 23, 2018 @11:20AM (#55986259) Homepage

          Besides, what self respecting nuclear aggressor wouldn't simultaneously hack or at least DoS local official's twitter accounts? You think social media is going to stay up in a real war waged by a competent adversary? Nerp. It'll crash at the most critical moment. It isn't defense-hardened, folks.

        • He should have issued a quick news conference and or radio broadcast.

          That's a great way of getting information out 10minutes AFTER most news outlets have published a tweet.

          Go to major news sites right now and find out about the tsunami warning. I challenge you to find one that doesn't reference Twitter. Here's the first I found: https://edition.cnn.com/2018/0... [cnn.com] the tweet is half way down the page.

        • by clodney ( 778910 ) on Tuesday January 23, 2018 @12:41PM (#55987041)

          I don't find it odd that he would use Twitter to correct a bad announcement - in situations like that you want to get on as many channels as you can, and lots of people will get Twitter with more immediacy than radio or TV. Nor can I get too worked up about him not knowing his password. I have seldom used accounts where I don't know the password, and would need access to my primary machine to get at my password file.

          This seems like the textbook example of a learning experience. A brand new system encountered a failure mode they hadn't anticipated, and they are going through lessons learned to correct for the future.

          • I don't find it odd that he would use Twitter to correct a bad announcement - in situations like that you want to get on as many channels as you can,

            To paraphrase an old Internet axiom: "on twitter nobody knows you are a dog."

            There is an official channel for issuing these warnings. Why would you trust someone on Twitter telling you that the official announcement was wrong?

            "Dear, come down to the shelter, a nuke is on the way!"

            "No, dear, @DaveIge38 on Twitter says it is a false alarm. I'm staying right he(&%@{{{{{

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      Also, is it necessarily a bad thing that he can't tweet random thoughts that come into his head? Having a staff member do it for him acts as a nice sanity check and brain fart HEPA filter.

      • by Baron_Yam ( 643147 ) on Tuesday January 23, 2018 @10:10AM (#55985707)

        At some point, a communications channel becomes 'official' and 'important'. I would say that when that threshold is crossed, it's a really good idea to have a couple of people involved to ensure every t is crossed and every i is dotted.

        And I also think that the fact that Twitter is considered an emergency communications channel AT ALL is disturbing.

        • by ctilsie242 ( 4841247 ) on Tuesday January 23, 2018 @10:46AM (#55985971)

          This boggles me as well. A channel this critical to communication, in previous decades, would be regulated and well funded, similar to 911 centers. Twitter is more suited for what someone talks about breakfast, or how they are mad at a ref's call during a football game, as opposed to mission-critical communication. Especially for the fact that not everyone follows the governor, or state officials.

          • by kenh ( 9056 ) on Tuesday January 23, 2018 @12:27PM (#55986921) Homepage Journal

            Why couldn't his "no attack" message have gone out over the very same system that issued the "not a test" nuke warning?

            Does the alert system rely on twitter for updates?

            Why can a message that says "this is not a test" go out based on a single button push?

            • Why couldn't his "no attack" message have gone out over the very same system that issued the "not a test" nuke warning?

              Because the system can only send one of a small number of pre-defined messages and "my bad... ignore the previous message" wasn't one of them.

              • by beckett ( 27524 )

                Because the system can only send one of a small number of pre-defined messages

                without even looking at the short list of pre-defined messages, are you saying there was NO other possible message that would have been more appropriate than the one that went out initially?

                i mean, even "this is a test" or "hay guyz it's ok stop putting your kids into sewers right now" or would be preferable to the message that went out.

                • by Rakarra ( 112805 )

                  They eventually used the same system to send out a retraction, it just took 45 minutes to figure out how.

                  • The operator freaked out when he got the NUKES INCOMING! FOR REAL! message and ran to his bunker. Took 45 minutes to convince him to come out and send the OOPS! message.
                • He could have said a huge asteroid was incoming and would liquefy the planet and wipe out all life, whether in a sewer or not.

              • Why couldn't his "no attack" message have gone out over the very same system that issued the "not a test" nuke warning?

                Because the system can only send one of a small number of pre-defined messages and "my bad... ignore the previous message" wasn't one of them.

                This is no doubt a security feature meant to keep erroneous messages from being sent out by mistake.

        • by PPH ( 736903 )

          And that the 'official' news channel cannot be unilaterally re-prioritized by the carriers to make room for streaming cat videos.

        • by lgw ( 121541 )

          You'd think that e.g. a president of the US could be bothered to carry the little card with him needed to authorize a nuclear strike should things go bad in a hurry. More than a couple of people involved in getting that one right, and yet some recent residents couldn't be bothered. Rather more important than a twitter password (OK, that has me wondering what Trump would tweet as he launched the nukes).

          • >OK, that has me wondering what Trump would tweet as he launched the nukes

            "Showing little Rocket Man how it's done. I start the best nukular wars, believe me. #MAGA"

          • You'd think that e.g. a president of the US could be bothered to carry the little card with him needed to authorize a nuclear strike should things go bad in a hurry.

            It is more complicated than "the little card". It is called the Nuclear Football [wikipedia.org] and it does, indeed, travel with the President wherever he goes. He doesn't have to "be bothered" to carry it, there is someone assigned to do that.

            More than a couple of people involved in getting that one right, and yet some recent residents couldn't be bothered.

            Which ones might you be referring to? The fact that you don't see it every time the media shows the President waving to the crowd doesn't mean it isn't there. I would expect that nobody is keeping you briefed on where the football is because you don't have the clearance or a need to

    • Why would he rely exclusively on Twitter when there's an entire industry whose job it is to disseminate information?

      When you say "industry", are you referring to those who still broadcast old-fashioned signals to boxes that the cord-cutting generation doesn't use anymore?

      Kind of hard to "disseminate" information to the masses who tend to now recognize only two forms of communication; social media and internet streaming.

      • Local news outlets transmit over the air (TV and radio), plus they have their own online presence as well.
        • Local news outlets transmit over the air (TV and radio)....

          TV and radio? You mean Netflix and Spotify?

          ..., plus they have their own online presence as well.

          Those who have invested in an online presence do. And if it's not on a YouTube or Facebook live stream, you might as well be offline.

      • by PPH ( 736903 )

        old-fashioned signals to boxes that the cord-cutting generation doesn't use anymore?

        SMS messages and the 'old-fashioned' EAS broadcasts [wikipedia.org] serve only to direct the population to tune to news sources for further information and instructions. It boggles my mind that the people conducting the system test would not have contact information at hand with which they could have announced the mistake. And that people receiving what appeared to be a real alert would not tune to the local news as instructed.

      • When you say "industry", are you referring to those who still broadcast old-fashioned signals to boxes that the cord-cutting generation doesn't use anymore?

        In the US we have something called "freedom", which means you are free to not listen to most emergency notification systems. If you choose not to get weather alerts by not owning or using a NOAA weather radio with such features, you are free to do so. If you don't want to watch TV, ditto.

        Kind of hard to "disseminate" information to the masses who tend to now recognize only two forms of communication; social media and internet streaming.

        In the US, modern cell phones have an Emergency Alerts system. There are several options, like en/disabling Amber alerts, but you cannot disable the "Presidential Alert". It is hard not to notice your cellphone screeching a

    • by rnturn ( 11092 ) on Tuesday January 23, 2018 @11:10AM (#55986149)

      BINGO!

      I'm not on Twitter. Neither is anyone else in my family. Because state government wrongly assumes that all its citizens are willing to be interrupted by tweets all day long, those that aren't are just acceptable losses?

      One might assume that DHS and FEMA would have drawn up suggestions for state and local officials on how to deal with emergency notifications like this. But it appears that neither of those organizations seem to be able to do their jobs.

      When we lived in S. OH (many years ago), the entire southern half of the state was paralyzed for almost two weeks due to an ice storm that knocked out power. How did local government inform citizens on the progress of the repairs and when areas might expect power to be restored? They freakin' didn't. The idiots in the public safety department had no plan in place. None. Did they think to pass information along to the local radio stations? Hell no. It was like living a scene out of "Airplane!": "No... that's just what they'd be expecting us to do."

      • by lgw ( 121541 )

        To be fair to Hawaii - the proper, non-twitter method was used to send the missile alert. That same system had a way to say "oops", but bureaucracy happened. The tweet would have been an improvisation, not the intended system, for cancelling the alert.

      • by SeaFox ( 739806 )

        BINGO!

        I'm not on Twitter. Neither is anyone else in my family. Because state government wrongly assumes that all its citizens are willing to be interrupted by tweets all day long, those that aren't are just acceptable losses?

        Don't modern smartphones have the ability to receive "emergency communications" in a manner completely separate from any social network? Why didn't they use that communication method? It's an app on my phone and I cannot uninstall it (unless I wanted to root the phone that is). I can turn off updates to select types of emergencies, but there is one category "Messages from the President" that cannot be disabled. "Impending thermonuclear war" seems like an appropriate use for this app.

    • Twitter isn't that popular. Especially for emergency information. In an emergency, I would check these sources in this order.
      Alarm System, Phone Alert, Radio, Television, Direct Call, Official news web sites. Social media would be the last place to look for factual information.

      He should had corrected the Alarm system and Phone Alerts first, then made a general call to media outlets in the area, then update social media.

    • Why would he rely exclusively on Twitter when there's an entire industry whose job it is to disseminate information?

      Phone number to the media? Are you a time traveller from the 90s? The only thing the "news media" does now is publish tweets wrapped in clickbait headlines.

      No I'm not being facetous. Let's have a look shall we. I heard there's a tsunami warning current. Let's check CNN: https://edition.cnn.com/2018/0... [cnn.com] Oh look, their source: https://twitter.com/SF_emergen... [twitter.com]

      • That's actually not that bad of an example, there does appear to be some text containing actual reporting or analysis in-between the twits. I saw an "article" on the Fox News website recently that was nearly entirely copy+pastes from Twitter, prefaced with "So-and-so said," "Such-and-such replied," - and they weren't even relevant so-and-sos, but seemingly random users. If I wanted to read analysis from random internet twits - which I don't - I'd make an account there. Less ads and no begging for subscript
    • Why would he rely exclusively on Twitter when there's an entire industry whose job it is to disseminate information?

      We really need to consider IQ tests for government officials. I can think of a half dozen better ways of getting this information out immediately to keep people from shitting themselves and panicking, without putting down my sandwich.

      Honestly twitter is the last the last tool on my mind since I still do not know anyone who has twitter.

    • by g01d4 ( 888748 )
      I assumed he had a government Twitter account to be used when he needed to broadcast information to his staff/reports. So instead of contacting one person he'd broadcast/tweet the false alarm notification to his staff who'd then disseminate it through various channels, including a public facing account. So it would add a delay but the internal tweet kicks the dissemination industry into action.
  • by cascadingstylesheet ( 140919 ) on Tuesday January 23, 2018 @09:51AM (#55985531)

    Fair enough ... I would consider not knowing your Twitter password a badge of honor (not having an account even more so).

    Alerting broadcast media might have been a better use of time (if he wasn't already doing that) though.

    • I would consider not knowing your Twitter password a badge of honor (not having an account even more so).

      Not having a Twitter account is a badge of honor.

      Having a Twitter account but not knowing your password is a badge of shame. It most likely means you set the app to remember your password so you don't have to type it in every time to login. Meaning anyone you lend your phone to, or steals your phone and manages to bypass its unlock security, can send out tweets in your name.

      Apps which access pe

  • All that stands between an official statement from authorized government official and a possible malicious docxing is a weak, guessable twitter password. It might even be his zip code. And any Twitter employee or contractor can spoof any user account!

    And these jokers enact laws for "ensuring" cyber security.

    • I thought the scary thing was a populace so incredibly stupid that it wants a government to use a very unreliable and insecure system of social media for official announcements

    • All that stands between an official statement from authorized government official and a possible malicious docxing is a weak, guessable twitter password. It might even be his zip code. And any Twitter employee or contractor can spoof any user account!

      And these jokers enact laws for "ensuring" cyber security.

      If you think this is scary, you should see the POTUS Twitter feed...

  • Only politicians and celebrities (CIA agents) use it anyway, so just nationalize it. That would also take care of the whole notion they get to censor people.
  • ... he knows HIS password!
  • If Twitter's going to be the official emergency management channel from now on, I guess I'd better recover my own Twitter password ...
  • Well, I for one don't care because even if I had seen the alert on twitter I can promise you I would not be going back to twitter after that. Who would? What's the point?
    • by DanDD ( 1857066 )

      Dude, I was there, and your sentiment was shared by many. Saturday afternoon at a flea market in Ocean View, south tip of Big Island, everyone was stoned.

      Then again, they live in the shadow of a giant active volcano, so maybe being stoned all the time is warranted...

  • by avandesande ( 143899 ) on Tuesday January 23, 2018 @11:10AM (#55986153) Journal
    Unless he has a personal assistant with him at all times why is he supposed to respond faster than 17 minutes? Hell I've taken craps that were longer than that!
    • Sounds like a medical problem. I'd recommend talking to a doctor about that. He may tell you to eat less, and eat different. He probably won't tell you to use a more natural posture (squatting, not sitting) but that helps as well.
  • by jwhyche ( 6192 ) on Tuesday January 23, 2018 @11:18AM (#55986231) Homepage

    Did his god damn phone work? Does he know that he can push buttons on it and when done in the correct order he can talk to someone? Wait, he probably didn't know the phone number.

    • and when done in the correct order he can talk to someone?

      Yes which is why it took so long to get the information out. Calling individual media outlets is an incredibly inefficient way of disseminating information. For better or worse in any emergency twitter will get the information to a wider audience and will be picked up by the media faster than anything else these days.

      I heard there's a tsunami warning in the USA.
      https://edition.cnn.com/2018/0... [cnn.com] : Count 1 official Twitter source
      http://www.bbc.com/news/world-... [bbc.com] : Count 1 semi-official Twitter source, 2 unoff

      • For better or worse in any emergency twitter will get the information to a wider audience and will be picked up by the media faster than anything else these days.

        You've apparently forgotten that they have a system that is able to contact EVERY PHONE IN THE STATE. In what universe is Twitter more efficient than that? Furthermore Twitter is hardly trustworthy nor does everyone have a Twitter account (I do not have one) so it's worse for me than the media.

        • You've apparently forgotten that they have a system that is able to contact EVERY PHONE IN THE STATE.

          The system that wasn't working, and wasn't able to send out the correction? Is that the system you're talking about? Great system that.

      • Regarding wide audience - The percentage of the population with a Twitter account is less than the percentage who own a TV or a radio.

        Regarding speed - Even if I did have a Twitter account, do I know what the governor's username is? Do I know that the governor's account is the one that will be used to send the message? Do I know that this kind of emergency alert will be disseminated on Twitter at all?

        I'd be expecting it through a more official channel. You know, like TV or radio, where emergency broadca
    • It's a good sign that the man isn't into Twitter so he can forget his password.

      There were other people going around doing their jobs; it's not his job-- that is why somebody doing their job INFORMED HIM of the problem because nobody can be all places at once.

      Two parts to the job)

      1) Explain what is going on (being in charge = informed or investigating) with some authority behind what you know (supposed to.)

      2) Plan how to resolve the problem and prevent future repeats. This step is often skipped because peop

  • More likely he had his head between his knees until someone told him it was a mistake.
  • Why didn't he just phone the Russian embassy and ask them?
    • Why didn't he just phone the Russian embassy and ask them?

      He was at Sarah Palin's house and was looking out his window at Russia.

  • Then his password would be the same.
  • He needs to write it down on a yellow sticky note stuck to his monitor. Obs. Good enough for the operations manager Jeffrey Wong, good enough for him. https://qz.com/1181763/hawaiis... [qz.com]

  • So I don't have a Twitter account and have no plans to get one. Nothing against it just have no use for it. So using Twitter to communicate to me is going to be ineffective at best because the information will be at least 2nd hand by the time I get it. Twitter is a terrible substitute since why would anyone believe a message over twitter over the official warning system?

    The correct answer is to send out another message on the same system that obviously has the ability to contact every cell phone in the s

  • Alerts and updates are done by OES director or designated person under direction of the Governor. Governors like the President don't do the actual messaging or press the red button, they may give orders but not the person actually writing a message about incoming missile. i.e. Governors should not be the ones sending a tsunami alert.
  • Once I asked why I should have a Twitter account, and was told, "to get news quicker". My response was, "Why? The 'instant' news is always wrong! I'd rather wait so there's at least a chance it might be somewhat accurate".

  • In reference to a screen grab (in another news article) of the command center in which behind the dept head is clearly a yellow stick with a password on it. The stick note clearly states "password."

    The person in charge of media rep later replied "that's to some old non-essential system - nothing important" Keeping it for a friend.

    Apparently - it might be the govn'rs missing Twitter password. :-P

  • He could just write his password in a Post-It and put it on his monitor. You know, like his emergency management guys... [nbc4i.com]
  • You know, there's no cellphone signal in a bunker.

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