Verizon Accidentally Sent a Scary Emergency Alert Telling People to "Take Shelter"

Imagine your day yesterday. Maybe you were working. Maybe you were at home or at the grocery store. Now imagine at 12:27 PM you got an emergency alert message on your phone saying, "Civil Emergency in this area until 1:24 PM EST Take Shelter Now U.S. Govern". Wouldn't you freak the eff out?

I would be wondering what the hell kind of emergency would force me to take shelter. I would want to know why I only needed to hide until 1:24. I would want to know why the U.S. Government calls themselves the U.S. Govern. I would be scared out of my mind that the last thing I would expect is for that message to be an error. An accidental emergency alert blast. A whoopsie on Verizon's part. Are you kidding me! How does that happen?

The emergency message was sent out to to New Jersey Verizon Wireless users in Monmouth, Ocean and Middlesex counties in the afternoon. People predictably freaked out with some taking to Twitter, others calling 911 and more watching the news for any, well, news. Eventually, police sent a message back saying it was a false alarm and people went about their day but that had to be one harrowing hour. What went on in people's minds?

The real question is how did Verizon epically screw up like this? A spokesman for the company said it was a test message that wasn't clearly identified as a test message while police are saying the alert was maliciously sent. The message was obviously part of CMAS (Commercial Mobile Alert System), an emergency alert initiative involving carriers, FCC and FEMA that's all well and good but if the system has too many fake out emergencies, people will stop trusting it. So uh, let's not scare people anymore unless they really need to be scared. [New Jersey Star Ledger via Info Wars]