‘North Korea Has Launched a Missile’ Tweet Prematurely Launched

Officials in the Japanese city of Yokohama mistakenly announced the launch of a North Korean missile to 40,000 followers on Twitter.

So, this happened.

ABC (“Yokohama mistakenly tweets N Korean missile launch“):

Officials in the Japanese city of Yokohama have been left red-faced after mistakenly announcing the launch of a North Korean missile to 40,000 followers on Twitter.

The city, south of Tokyo, prematurely fired its tweet just before noon (local time), announcing “North Korea has launched a missile” with blank spaces to indicate the exact time.

“We received a call from one of our followers who had noticed the mistake,” a city official said.

“We had the Tweet ready and waiting, but for an unknown reason it was dispatched erroneously.”

The city retracted the tweet about 20 minutes later and apologised to followers of @yokohama_saigai, the official said.

There have been numerous instances over the years of media outlets prematurely posting obituaries of people while they’re still alive. It’s a standard industry practice to have canned obits for very famous people who are old or sick and, well, mistakes happen.

But how much time, really can pre-loading a 140-character tweet save?

FILED UNDER: National Security, Quick Takes
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. legion says:

    Well, the Japanese are known for obsessing about their toilets – I guess they used them all today.

  2. wr says:

    Boy, back in the 80s we only had to be worried about nuclear war breaking out because the defense computers mistook a flock of geese for incoming missiles. Now it’s some yutz on twitter.

  3. Gustopher says:

    When you’re that close to where the missile is being launched from, every second counts. If they didn’t preload the tweet, they run the risk of never responding to a North Korean attack.

  4. John Peabody says:

    Just a good reminder to question every bit of data from a “Breaking Alert”. It is so incredibly easy to spread mis-information. Don’t demand details from the poor spokesman…that person may unwittingly start to fill in the gaps where there is no hard data. This is what happened the night Osama Bin Laden was killed… and now many people cry ‘conspiracy!’ becuase the stories don’t match.