Pop culture, entertainment & all things Fresno

People are talking: cell-phone amber alert

I awoke this morning to a steady stream of Facebook postings and Tweets discussing the Amber alerts received by cell phone users in the middle of the night — apparently the first time such an alert was issued through cell phones, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Reaction was decidedly mixed. Many people seem fine with this use of technology and point to the seriousness of the situation, which involved two missing children in San Diego. Others, however, wonder if such an intrusive method — the government awakening citizens in the middle of the night in such a loud manner — would best be reserved for messages involving a real and imminent danger to a large part of the population, such as a weather crisis or health emergency.

I understand the importance of the Amber Alert information, but I find myself more in the second camp mentioned above.  One commenter at writes:

Love the idea, hate the execution.   A klaxon screaming from every cell phone in the house for a message that then disappears leaving no trace is poor execution.  Worse, it can lead to alarm fatigue whereby,  if enuff of these get sent out, people begin to tune  them out or opt out of the system altogether.

I agree. In a state of 38 million residents, in which life-and-death situations unfold every day, such an extreme method of notifying the population should be done on a judicious basis.

It’s possible to opt out of the notifications, by the way.

Responses to "People are talking: cell-phone amber alert"

Cristobal says:

How do you opt out? I was blindsided by the alert when I was trying to go to sleep. And then was left flummoxed when I couldn’t find the alert anywhere on my phone afterwards. I was more concerned about how I was added to the list in the first place.

Jeff Barrett says:

If one doesn’t wish to be disturbed by one’s phone while sleeping, turn off the ringer. That solves the problem for me.
Personally I was surprised to receive the Amber Alert. This is a wonderful use of technology in this case. I hope that it paid off and helps rescue these children.

Donald Munro says:

I’ve read conflicting comments from people about turning off the ringer — that even if you had your ringer off, the Emergency Alert System overrode that and blared anyway. Can anyone with firsthand experience confirm?

wienzer says:

My ringer was off on my iPhone and vibration is on, I only got vibrations

Andrea says:

I had my phone set on vibrate only, and when the alert came through it vibrated like crazy for a while but no sound.

Jim Keller says:

Yes, our phones were set to silent and what I can only describe as the illegitimate child of the Emergency Broadcast System siren and the sound of ice being ground mechanically jarred us awake. I’m sure it depends on your phone.

Jim Keller says:

We responded by deactivating Amber Alerts on our phones forever. Law enforcement really needs to think, because now we’ll never receive alerts that might have come at more reasonable times of the day.

(For those who are wondering, in Android phones, it might be an app called “Emergency Alerts,” it might be in your “Wireless and Networks” preferences under “More,” or it might be a preference in your text messaging app itself. Depends on the phone.)

mdub420 says:

Did George Bush give Obama my phone number without telling me?

wienzer says:

I am very disappointed to see that so many people are upset about this. How would you feel if these were your kids and people cared more that their cell phone sent them a message or their favorite TV show was interrupted than helping find and bring them home safe. I feel ashamed for you.

Jim Keller says:

With due respect, there is no way I was going to spot the suspect while lying in a darkened bedroom, asleep.

Alerts that reach me when I wake up in the morning, such as the ones in social media and in the Bee, are equally effective. If it were my (theoretical) kids, I would not want law enforcement encouraging people to unsubscribe from Amber Alerts by thoughtlessly sending them out to cell phones in the middle of the night.

Michael says:

People are upset that they were woken up, but if it were their kids they would be all for it, Generally people don’t like or understand such things unless they are directly involved. I don’t know, to me it is a question that can be answered with common sense. Could the postives (alert lead to finding the children) outweigh the negatives (the alerts annoy you, or wake you up). The answer to that question is a resounding yes.

Joanna says:

A enforced silent period would be a good idea, say 10pm to 6am. For those actually out and on the roads, the amber alert is displayed. Waking people up is disruptive and pointless. I certainly am not going to find a missing child in my bedroom. Thanks to poor planning, I’m opting out of Amber Alerts permanently.

Betty says:

I’m glad I don’t have a smartphone, that would have likely upset me. When the phone rings in the middle of the night, one tends to think something bad has happened to immediate family, not something 6 hours away. It’s one thing if the Amber Alert was for here in Fresno/Clovis. Since it was about 6 hours south, they shouldn’t have done that via phone to people here.
I see a lot of people opting out of the feature due to this alert. I know I would.

SJ says:

I have a newer phone, that is as far from a ‘smart phone’ as the telcos. offer, and it goes off alright (regardless of the time of night) — I believe all phones going forward have this turned on by default. I saw no option on my phone to silence these alerts (I wouldn’t mind much at all if they came in silently), only to opt-out altogether. Opt-out it is.

Brandon says:

The most troubling aspect of this story isn’t poor execution, which can be remedied, it’s the ranks of people that believe their comfort/peace is more important than casting a wide net to potentially save lives.

Trena says:

Prayers go out to all the whinie babbies that got there beauty sleep interupted! I guess some people think there sleep is more important than innocent childern being taken out of there safe home and not all people sleep at night, some people have to work at night. Some people are so selfish, if it was there kids they would want the amber alert, Like i said prayers go out to the selfish people in the world.

Jim Keller says:

I’m very pleased that you’re someone for whom an interruption of sleep is no big deal. However, I’d encourage you to bear in mind that sleep is 1) a medical necessity and 2) not easy for a significant number of people to achieve. Far from complaining about interrupted “beauty rest,” a great many people are complaining about having their health put at risk for a situation which did not affect them and which they were in no position to do anything about. It’s important to understand our positions of privilege before condemning others’ views and concerns. Personally, I like that my phone will wake me up — whether it’s on vibrate or not — for a severe threat to life or property. But those in a position to spot a fleeing vehicle are most likely those on the streets who would see the freeway information signs (and who, frankly, should not be checking their cell phones while driving anyway), not those struggling to get what little sleep they can.

sandra says:

I honestly dont see what the problem is..i have no problem with the amber alert system waking me up in the middle of the night. We should all be concerned for the kids lives. why are we more concerned about other things, or having the system wake us up.. lets please help those kids, and all the other kids in the world..those children are innocent and it is unbelievable to see how an adult /human being is capable of destroying, and comminiting such cruel acts against indefensive children

JJJ says:

I received an emergency weather alert a few months ago.

You can opt out of all emergency notifications with the exception of presidential ones. Obviously, you shouldn’t expect to see one of those.

Deb faut says:

Everyone should be on alert to protect any child, just correct the system and send out a silent text to all cell phones.

Colby says:

What I find the most amusing during the “Amber Alert Phone Crisis of 2013″ is seeing posts from people saying things along the lines of “Thanks government, stay off my phone!” or “Thanks Obama!”, as to imply that this is tipping point of how much invasive behavior people can take, Ignoring all the other things that have been coming out in recent weeks. Its pretty funny but also really sad, that this is what people get all riled up about

Also, I find the complaining to be sort of ridiculous, as your phone is notifying you of some of the most inane information everyday, the first time something real is sent, people lose their minds.

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