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Hawaii governor was slow to correct missile alert — because he didn't know Twitter log-in

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Hawaii governor was slow to correct missile alert — because he didn't know Twitter log-in

Image: Gov. David Ige speaks at a news conference about the missile alert t
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In the chaotic minutes after a ballistic missile alert was mistakenly sent out by the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency, Gov. David Ige was experiencing a little chaos of his own: He didn't know his Twitter log-in.

While some officials, including Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, raced to Twitter tonotify residents that there were not, in fact, any incoming missiles, Ige's Twitter account was dormant for a harrowing 17 minutes — even though he had learned within two minutes that it was a false alarm.

The initial all-caps alert went out at 8:07 a.m. local time on Jan. 13, sending panicked Hawaii residents running for shelter and bracing for catastrophe. "THIS IS NOT A DRILL," warned the ominous message sent to cellphones.

But it wasn't until 8:24 a.m. when Ige tweeted: "There is NO missile threat."

Image: Gov. David Ige speaks at a news conference about the missile alert that rattled Hawaii in the morning hours of Jan. 13, 2018.
Gov. David Ige (left) speaks at a news conference about the missile alert that rattled Hawaii in the morning hours of Jan. 13, 2018. KHNL

On Monday, when asked about the delay, Ige, a Democrat, told reporters he simply couldn't log on to Twitter.

"I have to confess that I don't know my Twitter account log-ons and the passwords, so certainly that's one of the changes that I've made," Ige said after delivering the State of the State address, which made no mention of the missile alert blunder.

An update to his Facebook account came even later: It took Ige another six minutes, until 8:30 a.m., to share on Facebook that the alert was sent in error.

Related: Hawaii missile alert test goes wrong, terrifies the state

He didn't say Monday whether he also was locked out of his Facebook account.

Like many lawmakers, Ige's social media accounts are managed by his communications team. His spokeswoman, Cindy McMillan, told NBC News that the governor had to track her down before he was able to post anything.

"Gov. Ige's Twitter and Facebook accounts have always been updated and managed by staff. Going forward, he will be able to log in on his phone to post in an emergency situation. However, staff will continue to post to and manage both accounts on a day-to-day basis," McMillan said via email.

Regardless, many residents, cowering in basements or crammed inside bathtubs, were not checking Ige's social accounts as they awaited what they feared would be a deadly missile strike from North Korea. And it wasn't until 38 minutes after the initial alert went out that the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency finally sent out an update: "False Alarm. There is no missile threat or danger to the State of Hawaii."

The incident has prompted a probe by the Federal Communications Commission and a slew of changes to the Emergency Alert System and the Wireless Emergency Alert used by Hawaii's agency, which routinely does internal tests of the system.