Here’s How Hawai‘i Responded on Social Media to the False Ballistic Missile Alert

A false alarm caused by human error sent the entire state of Hawai‘i into panic mode.


An emergency alert of an inbound ballistic missile terrified many Hawai‘i residents on Saturday, Jan. 13. The message buzzed on phones at 8:07 a.m. and screamed in all caps: “BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.” If it indeed was a real threat, then Hawai‘i residents would need to immediately scramble to find a nearby shelter and take cover. Thirty-eight minutes later (a long time when you’re contemplating impending doom and saying your goodbyes), our phones went off again informing us that the alert was a false alarm caused by a Hawai‘i Emergency Management Agency employee who pushed the wrong button by mistake. Twice. Find out how Hawai‘i residents reacted to the traumatic experience on social media.



Here’s how Hawai‘i officials responded:







HONOLULU Magazine asked Twitter followers to share their reactions after receiving the alert. That came after a Twitter video was posted of a family sending their children into a storm drain through a manhole to shelter and retweeted and broadcast in news coverage:









HONOLULU Magazine reached out to Facebook followers to share their experiences. Many were clearly seriously shaken by the emergency alert:








After it was clear that the alert was a mistake rather than an actual attack, many found humor in the situation. Here are some memes that are making the rounds:

I survived



A post shared by Junior Puma (@hannibizzle) on

  Good morning Hawaii



  Guy Hagi


  State of Hawaii emergency shelter


  Great Aloha Run