Amber Alert on Phone: California Message Stirs Up Controversy

Tuesday, 06 Aug 2013 06:15 PM

By Morgan Chilson

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California issued the state’s first Amber Alert to go out on cell phone systems Monday, inspiring many online to comment on whether it’s a necessary or just annoying service.

The police-issued alert was regarding the tragic killing of Christina Anderson. James Lee Dimaggio is a suspect in her death and also in the kidnapping of her children, Hannah Anderson, 16, and Ethan Anderson, 8, according to The Los Angeles Times.

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The alert that went out described the car DiMaggio may be traveling in, a blue Nissan Versa.

The Times reported that cell phones received the alert based on how close they were to the area in Southern California where Anderson’s death occurred. The alerts are not based on cell phone numbers.

On MacWorld, columnist Lex Friedman tackled the subject of such emergency alerts coming through cells phones. The headline said it all: “Amber Alerts on Your iPhone: Invasive, Frustrating and Necessary.”

Friedman attempted to explain the need for such communications, even when they come at inconvenient times, like the middle of the night.

Since January 2013, Amber Alerts have been sent through the Wireless Emergency Alert system.

Online, reactions to the alert were varied and often sharp.

Some comments shared with people how they can block the Amber Alerts from their cell phones, while others took people to task for not wanting to help find missing children. In retaliation, many said that the Amber Alert message was poorly worded and unclear.

On the LA Times article, Surreptitious remarked: "Ok, clearly I do not hate children, but let's be honest. Sending out poorly worded Amber Alerts through text message to the entire state of California is not an effective means of actually finding the children. What am I supposed to do about this situation when I am at home and about to go to sleep?"

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Related stories:

Cell Phone Alert Startles and Confuses iPhone Users

Hacker Warns of Zombies: Breaks Into TV Station Alert System (Video)

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