Residents of Lake Worth, Florida were left shocked and baffled this week when the city’s push alert system sent text messages to thousands of phones warning of a zombie outbreak. To make the message more terrifying, the alert was sent in the middle of the night during a power outage. Was this a test of the public’s reaction to an impending zombie virus outbreak, or merely some pranksters having a laugh at a whole city’s expense?
Likely the latter, but with all things, you never know. The message sent to Lake Worth residents read like any other official alert, but with a seemingly tongue-in-cheek reference to a location from popular media franchise The Walking Dead:
Power outage and zombie alert for residents of Lake Worth and Terminus. There are now far less than seven thousand three hundred and eighty customers involved due to extreme zombie activity. Restoration time uncertain.
While Lake Worth is a real city, Terminus is a fictional post-apocalyptic outpost built inside a train depot in the highly overrated TV adaptation of Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore’s comic series The Walking Dead. Hopefully, that pop culture reference was enough to keep too many Lake Worth residents from panicking after the message was sent.
The city’s communication director Ben Kerr quickly took to Facebook to announce that city officials are “looking into the reports that the system mentioned zombies and “to reiterate that Lake Worth does not have any zombie activity currently and apologize for the system message.” In response, many Lake Worth residents took to social media to voice their confusion and skepticism over the message. Some users think the city’s response “sounds like a cover-up” while others are focusing on the word “currently” in the city’s official statement, alleging it might imply a future outbreak.
While mysterious public broadcasts and transmissions are nothing new, social media and these types of push alerts are making fake messages much easier to disseminate as the state of Hawaii unfortunately discovered earlier this year. Might these be examples of concerned whistle-blowers trying to warn us from behind the scenes, or just some mischievous hackers having fun at the public’s expense?
I’ll go with the latter. For now. But I’m keeping my bunker.