This blog has stressed the importance of double checking the content of bulk SMS messages before they are sent to a mass audience in the past. Those that fail to do so can severely damage their own integrity if they send content that is either obscene or inaccurate, particularly if the message in question is sent for emergency purposes. Officials at the University of Miami learned this the hard way when a bulk message was sent out that offended a number of recipients.
On Wednesday, December 5, mobile users around the campus received this vague message:
UMiami ENN: Gables Campus. **DESCRIPTION** black male on campus wearing black and white tennis shoes, white shirt w/blk writing, blk shorts.
Unsurprisingly, several students and faculty – particularly those of African American descent – were upset that the school had to warn people of a black man roaming campus. Not only did many deem this as racist, the reality of the situation was an even bigger problem.
The truth of the matter is that there was a suspect at large during the time of the text messages, but because no information pertaining to the crime or the situation were included in the message, those who saw it had nothing to go on other than the fact a black male was on the school's Gables campus.
Later, the University left a comment on its Facebook page.
"Last night, University of Miami Police responded to a laptop theft on campus," the statement said. "Both subjects fled and one was later apprehended in the perimeter. In an attempt to quickly notify the campus that a subject was at large, and active police perimeter was being set up and that people should find a secure location/avoid the area, an incomplete University ENN (Emergency Notification Network) alert was initially distributed. The University regrets the error. Police are still investigating."
When sending emergency texts, it's crucial that these messages contain proper information. Easy SMTP provides the tools needed to launch effective emergency SMS messages.