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Hawaii’s Governor Waited 17 Minutes to Tweet the Missile Alert Was a False Alarm Because He Forgot His Twitter Password

David Ige shakes hands with Shinzo Abe.
Hawaii Gov. David Ige (left) shakes hands with Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at Abe’s official residence in Tokyo on June 16, 2015.
Toru Hanai/Getty Images

When a missile alert was mistakenly sent out to residents of Hawaii on the morning of Jan. 13, the state’s governor waited 17 minutes to reassure panicked citizens on Twitter. The reason, he told reporters when they pressed him after the State of the State address Monday, was that he had forgotten his password.

“I have to confess that I don’t know my Twitter account log-ons and the passwords,” he said, according to the Honolulu Star Advertiser.

Gov. David Ige had been alerted just two minutes after the alert was sent that it was a mistake. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard tweeted just minutes after the alert went out. In the confusion, the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency, which first pushed out the alert, tweeted that there was no threat 13 minutes later. Four minutes later, Ige quoted that tweet in his own. (It would be another six minutes before he posted on Facebook.)

“I was in the process of making calls to the leadership team both in Hawaii Emergency Management as well as others,” he said, according to the Star Advertiser. “The focus really was on trying to get as many people informed about the fact that it was a false alert.”

Thirty-eight minutes after the alert was pushed out to residents, the state’s emergency management agency sent out an alert with the correction.

In the time that passed between those alerts, a state of confusion set in, and terrified citizens confronted the question of how to spend their last moments alive.

From the replies to the governor’s tweet, the anger many felt over the delay is clearly apparent. In his State of the State address, he avoided talking about the incident. In talking to reporters afterward, he said he now keeps the login information on his phone.

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Molly Olmstead

Molly Olmstead is a Slate assistant social media editor.