Ever since Siri, Apple‘s voice recognition assistant, became available, people have experimented with asking it to perform various tasks. Asking for Siri’s micro-processor in marriage, asking it to old-school beatbox rap, or take on the persona of “Computer” from Lego Batman are all popular Easter eggs with humorous results.
Recently, saying “Hey Siri, 108” has gone viral. Various explanations have been floated on social media. Here are a few I found on Twitter:
Tell siri “108” she replies with a joke lol
— LILPULLOUT (@LILPULL0UT) March 22, 2017
Say “108” to Siri…
She gets so mad?????
— ⚓️?? (@S13RRA_) March 22, 2017
Say 108 to Siri and it plays your favourite tune wtf ???????
— insta @imjustbait (@Imjustbanter) March 17, 2017
While all of that sounds great and enticing, the reality is that 1-0-8 is India‘s emergency service access number. While some people in the United States may think it won’t be an issue because that isn’t the US number, telling Siri “1-0-8” results in a call being placed to the local emergency service number, not India‘s. Why? Because Siri knows what the local emergency number is for your location, and in case you are visiting FROM India, they want you to get the help you need.
The result? Public safety answering points flooded with calls, potentially tying up phone lines in areas where this online meme has gone viral, thus limiting access to those with true emergencies. While this prank may be played off as a joke, it is not funny in the slightest. Recently there have been a number of 9-1-1 system technological issues (AT&T 9-1-1 outage, T-Mobile ghost-calling) and although no one has made a definitive correlation between the “prank” and the problems, it is probably only a matter of time.