Auto-Corrected Text Shuts Down School

by | March 2, 2012 at 12:13 PM | General

Note to cell phone programmers: If you’re going to offer a feature that fixes misspelled words (or slang), you might want to think about offering nonthreatening words as corrections.

Students at two Georgia schools got a lesson in the perils of auto-corrected text messages this week after a message warning of a “gunman” went out to an alarmed recipient, the Gainesville Times reports.

The text message in question apparently was meant to read “gunna be at west hall today.” But after the phone’s program corrected the word to “gunman,” the text took on a sinister tone. Adding to the confusion, the student accidentally sent the text to the wrong number, the Times reports.

By noon on Feb. 29, police and school officials at the West Hall middle and high schools had imposed a lockdown. The text and subsequent call to police went out at about 11:30 a.m. that day.

An investigation eventually revealed the mistaken text.

“It was a combination of odd circumstances,” Sgt. Stephen Wilbanks of the Hall County Sheriff’s Office told the Times. “We want to emphasize that the recipient did the right thing in reporting the message.”

The incident occurred just days after a teen gunman killed three students at the Chardon High School in Ohio – a factor that officials said could have played a role in the swift response to the erroneous text.

The lockdown was eventually lifted around 1:45 p.m.