At around 11:30 am yesterday, cellphones across Ontario received an Amber Alert about a missing 8-year-old boy named Gabriel McCallum. Two alerts were sent out, with a brief description and an urgent call to action. Thankfully, the boy was found safe just two hours later, and a final message was sent out to notify the public that the alert was cancelled.
But, the alert was met with mixed reactions. The Ontario Provincial Police received several complaints after the Amber Alert was sent out. One person was annoyed that all three notifications came in loudly, even though their iPhone was in "do not disturb" mode.
"If someone was easily startled that could now cause distracted driving," they said. Others complained about the inability to mute or opt out of the alerts.
"Is there a way to mute these emergency alerts that Ontario has started?" Asks a Twitter user, "I just had 3 alarms blazing in the span of an hour about an amber alert in Thunder Bay... 14 HOURS from where I live.... wth am I getting these alerts for?"
That's enough. Four Alert Ready alarms ( 2 ea. Eng. & Fr) for an issue hundreds of miles away. Are alerts for Kathmandu next? I want out. I'll take my chances when there is an emergency that is geographically relevant. #alertready— ⚛ Rob Mellow ☢ (@RobMellow1) May 14, 2018
The Ontario Police spokesperson responded with, "People need to remember that it's a quick alert that could save a child's life." The CRTC says that there's no way to opt out of the alerts, "given the importance of warning Canadians of imminent threats to their safety."
Is there any way to mute these emergency alerts that Ontario has started? I just had 3 blazing alarms in the span of an hour about an amber alert in Thunder Bay... 14 HOURS away from where I live... wth am I getting these alerts for? What if I was sitting in a lecture?— Fatimae Baig (@fatimaahb) May 14, 2018
I just got an emergency alert on my phone for an amber alert over 14 hours away from me in Thunder Bay, Ontario. I'm sure the situation is awful but is that really a valid use of an emergency alert system? I feel a little bit misled.— Justin (@comsopat) May 14, 2018
Overall, most people claim that they felt "misled" by the emergency alert, arguing that the three notifications in a row about the missing boy wasn't a "valid" use of the new system. "Congrats, you've trained me to ignore Emergency Alerts," one user tweeted.
The controversy also sparked plenty of counterarguments. Canadians took to Twitter to express their shock and frustration at people's insensitivity. "I CANNOT believe all the complaining im hearing about people getting the amber alert notice today in Ontario," one user says, "What if it was one of your loved ones in danger?"
I CANNOT believe all the complaining im hearing about people getting the amber alert notice today in Ontario. So what if your in Toronto and the notice was for Thunder Bay? Its better to reach too many than too few. What if it was one of your loved ones in danger? #AMBERAlert— BringItToTheMatt21 (@BringIt2TheMatt) May 14, 2018
Source: The Star