Police across the country are warning about a new Siri prank that’s gone viral on Twitter and Facebook.
In tweets and Facebook posts, people are encouraged to say “108” to Siri, Apple’s virtual personal assistant, to hear a joke or to “see the magic.”
But it’s a prank, and what happens next isn’t funny, law enforcement officials say.
Hearing “108,” Siri will think you’re in need of emergency help and will dial 911.
According to people who have tried it, a countdown will begin. Siri will say: “Calling emergency services in five seconds.”
Why does that happen? Apparently “108” is India’s equivalent to the United States’ 911, according to CNET.
Because Apple made it easy for people to call for help from anywhere in the world, “saying any country’s emergency number will connect you to the service for where you are,” CNET explains.
“You could ask Siri to call 9-1-1 if you’re visiting the UK, and it would dial ... 999.”
The prank could potentially tie up emergency lines and delay legitimate 911 calls, warn law enforcement authorities.
“Don’t fall for it as it ties up emergency lines,” Sgt. Adrian Page of the Lonoke (Arkansas) Police Department wrote in a Facebook post that went viral. “It is designed specifically as a panic code.”
According to The Oregonian, the prank appears to have started in mid-March.
“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 Police Department in Maryland warned Tuesday on Facebook. “Don’t fall for this prank.”
Law enforcement agencies are fighting back against the stunt on the same social media platforms where it started.
In a post on its Facebook page, the Texarkana, Texas, police department this week encouraged parents to tell their children not to do this.
“If 9-1-1 operators are trying to answer these calls, that means that a real emergency call might not be answered as quickly as it needs to be answered,” the police department warned.
“Should you ever accidentally call 9-1-1, please don’t immediately hang up the phone. It’s better to stay on the line and tell the 9-1-1 operator what happened. Otherwise, they will be trying to call you back or send an officer out to check that everything is OK there.