Do not use emergency lines to catch terrorists, please!

“It’s the first time this kind an emergency alert has been sent to aid the search for a wanted suspect — normally the system is used only in cases of extreme weather warnings, AMBER alerts and crisis situations. Because of the text-only nature of an emergency alert, the message asks to look for a picture in the media.” Writes The Next Web.

Source: The Next Web


On one hand this is a really creative use of the phone’s feature. On the other hand it is brutally invading every person’s privacy, personal space and everyday life. It is not the communities concern, there are literally thousands whose job is to catch criminals or terrorists.

Other kinds of media should be absolutely enough to satisfy the need to ask the public for help. If this is the first step of an incoming trend then we should be very concerned. How long will it take to go from occasional manhunt requests to regular unskippable unavoidable ads or propagandist messages?

Additionally the problem of overusing emergency lines with inconsistent messages is that it makes people ignorant. It was very hard to gain people’s trust and attention for really important issues. But on the other hand it is extremely easy to lose that trust and attention.

The responsibility of gate-keepers with access to such high impact services lies in understanding the reaction of society to different messages. People are very bad in evaluating alarms or emergencies, most of them just react. If we keep exploiting this the threshold of what counts as emergency drops and we could not help people efficiently anymore.