A new prank has surfaced that tries to take advantage of Apple’s virtual personal assistant Siri—and could land you in some hot water.
For a laugh, some social media users are telling their friends and others to say, “Hey Siri, 108” into their iPhones. While some pranksters say doing so will allow users to quickly start a three-way FaceTime call, it actually activates the iPhone’s emergency response and calls 911. As soon as Siri hears the call for 108, the virtual assistant responds with, “Calling Emergency Services in five seconds.” If users don’t respond quickly enough and cancel, a call will be placed to emergency responders.
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While some have laughed at pranking their friends, it’s actually a serious problem. Emergency lines are clogged with legitimate emergencies from people in need. Pranking someone into calling the emergency line for a quick laugh could delay a person with a real problem from getting help. Moreover, the National Emergency Number Association notes on its site that “in most places, it’s against the law to make prank 9-1-1 calls.”
According to Mic, which earlier reported on the prank, Siri responding to the command isn’t a glitch or bug. Instead, Apple (AAPL) makes emergency services numbers from around the world compatible with Siri, so users can immediately reach first responders wherever they are.
In India, the 911 equivalent is 108. So, when users say “Hey Siri, 108,” they’re effectively telling the virtual assistant that there’s an emergency and they need help. Siri responds by dialing emergency services in the country in which the iPhone is currently located. In the U.S., then, Siri calls 911, assuming the 108 mention is for an emergency.