The Hawaiian Push Notification Disaster; What You Need to Know
Jana El-Sokkary

Push notifications are a double-edged sword; push too much or send the wrong message and everything you’ve built is gone. In some cases, trust in your service is permanently abolished. Therefore, taking extreme consideration before you tailor and send your push messages to your audience is a must do, as you want to be clear on the message you’re sending out and also have a calculated result of its potential effect.

What happened in Hawaii?

On the 13th of January, the Hawaiian people received a jarring notification on television and their phones; it was “BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL”, so imagine that you’re at home watching Netflix and minding your own business, then suddenly without prior notice, there’s a missile inbound to land on your island and everyone should take IMMEDIATE shelter. Now, can you imagine the panic they must have felt with all the push and pull happening between USA and Korea?

READ | The Perfect Push Notification Message Exists and it’s Here

Luckily, the notification was confirmed false due to “a human error” after thirty minutes that made the public live their worst nightmare. The Hawaiian case was a national disgrace; but in the end, mistakes do happen.  

Another thing to be learned from this accidental fail is their correction plan. After it took thirty minutes to push out a correction, every Hawaiian authority was on fire; Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard tweeted that it was a false alarm and that she had confirmed that the island was safe.

What should you learn from this?

Unless you’re in the missile business, your push notifications should be fine. However, thirty minutes of the wrong notification message can kill your entire credibility, people are susceptible, that’s one reason advertising works, they are easily influenced, but they’re not clueless, due to being bombarded with other notifications all the time, so after all the thinking, they eventually go with how they feel.

What happened in Hawaii is the definition of blown proportions, but on a molecular scale, it could happen to you too if you’re not careful; a miscalculated push notification lands like a missile on your audience and repels them for good.