Japan public TV sends mistaken North Korean missile alert

A smartphone shows Tuesday’s NHK television’s news website saying “North Korea appears to have fired a missile,” “The government: Seek shelter inside buildings and basements,” second from top, in Tokyo Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2018. (AP)
Updated 17 January 2018
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Japan public TV sends mistaken North Korean missile alert

TOKYO: Japan’s public broadcaster mistakenly sent an alert Tuesday warning citizens of a North Korean missile launch and urging them to seek immediate shelter, then minutes later corrected it, days after a similar error in Hawaii.
NHK television issued the message on its Internet and mobile news sites as well as on Twitter, saying North Korea appeared to have fired a missile at Japan. It said the government was telling people to evacuate and take shelter.
“North Korea appears to have fired a missile,” NHK said, adding that a government warning had been issued. “The government: Seek shelter inside buildings and basements.”
The false alarm came just days after Hawaii’s Emergency Management Agency sent a mistaken warning of a North Korean missile attack to mobile phones across the state, triggering panic.
NHK said the mistake was the result of an error by a staff member who was operating the alert system for online news, but did not elaborate. NHK deleted the tweet and text warning after several minutes, issued a correction and apologized several times on air and on other formats.
“The flash was a mistake,” NHK said. “We are very sorry.”
Tension has grown in Japan over North Korean missile tests as they have flown closer to Japanese coasts. NHK and other Japanese media generally alert each missile test, and the government has issued emergency notices when the missiles flew over Japan.
Japan is also stepping up its missile intercepting capabilities and conducting missile drills across the country in which residents, including schoolchildren and elderly people, rush to community centers, cover their heads and duck down to the floor. A major drill is planned in downtown Tokyo next week.
Unlike the mistaken Hawaii warning, the NHK alert did not contain the statement, “This is not a drill.” NHK was able to correct its error in a few minutes, far faster than the nearly 40 minutes that lapsed before the Hawaii alert was withdrawn.
The Hawaii agency has now changed its protocols to require that two people send an alert and made it easier to cancel a false alarm.


Facebook asked to protect users in simmering Sri Lanka

Updated 17 November 2018
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Facebook asked to protect users in simmering Sri Lanka

  • Sri Lanka has been in crisis since last month with two men claiming to be prime minister
  • The United National Party wrote to Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg asking the US firm not to cooperate with Rajapaksa’s administration

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka’s largest political party Saturday asked Facebook to protect the identity of its supporters, fearing a crackdown by what it called the “illegal” government.
The Indian Ocean nation has been in crisis since last month with two men claiming to be prime minister, MPs brawling in parliament and the administration paralyzed.
It began on October 26 when President Maithripala Sirisena sacked Ranil Wickremesinghe as premier and replaced him with former strongman Mahinda Rajapaksa.
In chaotic scenes in parliament this week, Rajapaksa lost two votes of no confidence but he is refusing to go and Sirisena has yet to acknowledge the motions.
On Saturday Wickremesinghe’s United National Party (UNP) wrote to Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg asking the US firm not to cooperate with Rajapaksa’s administration.
“We urge Facebook to refrain from disclosing information about... users of the platform to any officials of the illegal government unless it is properly sanctioned by a court of law,” the UNP said.
The UNP had also complained that its official page was blocked by Facebook on Thursday ahead of a mass rally it organized to express solidarity with Wickremesinghe, who insists he is still prime minister.
Sirisena ordered a ban on Facebook across Sri Lanka in March after blaming it for spreading hate speech and fueling intercommunal violence that led to the deaths of three people and destruction of property.
Since then, Facebook had said it was deploying more staff to identify and remove inflammatory material from Sri Lankan users.
This week Sri Lankans had to rely on social media to watch their lawmakers fighting and throwing chilli powder after the main telecommunications company stopped its live broadcast.