A prank that has been making the rounds through social media is a dangerous and possibly illegal waste of time, say some law enforcement members.
Jokesters on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are creating posts asking their friends and followers to open Siri and say the number “108”, but police departments have warned the public that this is not a good idea. 1-0-8 is the emergency services phone number in India, equivalent to our 9-1-1 here in North America, and when the voice command is performed using Siri it translates that to your local emergency number and dials 9-1-1 for you. It reportedly gives you a five second window to cancel the call but calls still go through.
“The Harris County Sheriff’s Office, along with Texas NENA, are encouraging iPhone users NOT to test the ‘108’ command. This viral prank is becoming increasingly popular on social media, with various speculations as to what the command does. The command, in fact, will instruct Siri to call emergency services, which could potentially tie up emergency lines. In case of an emergency, please dial 9-1-1,” said a spokesperson on the Harris County Sheriffs Office Facebook page in Texas recently.
Twitter users who were spreading the prank have told people that Siri would tell you a joke, allow you to FaceTime with three people instead of two, and a number of other lies. But calling emergency services when you are not in need of help is illegal and wastes the time of police and dispatchers, and also holds up the lines and possible prevents those who actually need help from getting it, various authorities have taken to social media to explain recently.
“It’s a prank call when someone calls 9-1-1 for a joke, or calls 9-1-1 and hangs up. Prank calls not only waste time and money, but can also be dangerous. If 9-1-1 lines or call takers are busy with prank calls, someone with a real emergency may not be able to get the help they need. In most places, it’s against the law to make prank 9-1-1 calls,” adds the Harris County Sheriff’s office.
This is not the first prank of its kind. In 2015 people were cajoled into telling Siri to call 112 instead of 108. 112 is the European emergency services phone number. As a result, the Wisconsin emergency services department reportedly received over 200 fake calls in one week in 2015.
“911 asks you not fall for the prank of asking Siri to call 112 (Europe’s version of 911). Your phone will call 911 and that’s no joke,” the Washington Snohomish Sheriff Twitter account posted in June of 2015. This week, other authrorities in the U.S. took to social media once again in a effort to inform people of the danger of the joke.
“This prank is already spreading among Annapolis teens and has the potential to dangerously tie up 911 phone systems preventing emergency calls from being answered quickly,” the Annapolis, Maryland Police Department said recently. “Don’t fall for this prank.”