Dear Everyone: Stop Freaking Out That Malaysian Airlines Notified Victim's Families By Text Message

from the opt-in dept

Text messages are now used for many, many things. Such as laying off employees, mistakenly locking down schools, and going all George Orwell on local protests. As with most recent trends in technology, there are the detractors, decrying a loss of personal communication in favor of these heartless words that ding our smart phones. Never mind how useful most of this stuff is, or the wants and needs of those involved. For some, new technology is bad and society is about to fail.

There's a similar sentiment found in news reports of the families of the doomed Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 victims being notified that all aboard were killed via text message.

Before a Monday news conference announcing that Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 ended in the Indian Ocean, relatives of passengers learned the tragic news via a text from the airline. The text read: "Malaysia Airlines deeply regrets that we have to assume beyond a reasonable doubt that MH370 has been lost and that none of those on board survived. As you will hear in the next hour from Malaysia's Prime Minister, we must now accept all evidence suggests the plane went down in the Southern Indian Ocean."
That bit pulled from a CNN article is fairly tame, though it's a bit strange to see the fact that a text was sent out to some families (others were notified in person, with counselors on hand) leading the piece. Other reports, such as this one from Gawker, seem to treat the text notification as if it was the story. In that instance, the headline reads:
Malaysia Airlines Broke Crash News to Families Via Text
Focusing on this is stupid, not only because it's barely a story, but also because all this hand-wringing is entirely unwarranted. Malaysia Airlines themselves informed the public why they had gone with these text messages, while also clarifying that this wasn't a mass text that went out to all families with no other action taken. The texts were an opt-in decision by families that could not be met face to face at hotels or support centers. They wanted the families of the victims to get the news first before reporters got a hold of the story.

So while this story goes viral throughout the day, keep in mind that this is actually a good thing the airline did, not some heartless brush off of victims' families.

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Filed Under: malaysia, text message, tragedy
Companies: malaysian airlines

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  1. icon
    kenichi tanaka (profile), 24 Mar 2014 @ 11:20am

    I find it appalling that the airline would send out text messages. Talk about a major failure on the part of the airlines. They should have notified these families in person, not through A FUCKING TEXT MESSAGE.

    I disagree with Tim that this isn't an issue. It IS.

    This is a WTF moment to receive a text message from the airline because they simply don't want to address these families 'face-to-face'.

    I hope these families sue the shit out of this airline.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. icon
    Tim K (profile), 24 Mar 2014 @ 11:28am


    The texts were an opt-in decision by families that could not be met face to face at hotels or support centers.

    Did you miss that part?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Mar 2014 @ 11:28am


    Reread the second last paragraph, those notified by text had agreed to this form of notification.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Guardian, 24 Mar 2014 @ 11:29am

    Distraction 101

    just put a sob story constantly all over the western media so you forget the following:

    A) spy agencies are collecting and storing kiddy pron and are not getitng rid of it for osme sick reason....

    B) crimea was russian for hundreds of years....and its about an american attempt at escalating arms race of a missle defence shield ( hell i read that in a 2010 Maccleans article ffs ..might a been time )

    C) defelct and get nsa snowden leaks off mainline news and off places.

    D) send in paid shills and nsa supporters to sites like this and reddit to obfuscicate and bend and lie aobut any truth that does make its way out....

    E) funny how half the mps in the old ukraine govt were jewish and now you have neo nazis in charge and wonder why russia whom lost tens of millins fo nazis might want to um er protect russians?

    F) that the usa economy is very fragile....and pushing russia to cancel or curtail oil to the EU might in longer term profit a few uber rich americans and maybe osme buddy buddy canadians in oil/gas industries.

    G) the effect of F) owuld be a near doubling or tripling of most goods in europe sending its economy into utter chaos ensuring the usa remains utterly domiant at least that is there theory...until india , china and brasil actually team up....OH WAIT THEY HAVE ROFL....

    enjoy i hear the aurora program is still running.....

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. icon
    Ninja (profile), 24 Mar 2014 @ 11:30am


    Read the article. The families opted in the text message method to get any information faster as they could not be near the whole mess all the time. It is not a failure. I would have opted in, gone home to rest my mind and body and then went to the company when I got the text.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Mar 2014 @ 11:30am


    If this were the first communication between the airline and the families, I might agree with you.

    But it's not. Everyone (with any sense) has long since realized that the most probable outcome, given all the publicly available facts, is that the plane crashed in the southern Indian ocean, that nobody survived, and that it may be a very long time before any portion of the plane is recovered.

    None of that is happy, none of it is welcome, none of it fits with some of the tinfoil-hat grade conspiracy theories flying around, but it's consistent with all known data and it HAS been consistent with all known data for over a week.

    The text from MA was simply telling people what they already knew, albeit phrasing it as an official notification from the airline of record.

    And look: I have every sympathy for those who lost friends and loved ones in this incident. But some of them have behaved in idiotic and assinine ways that have done nothing to make the process any easier for the rest of them. Trying to assault an airline spokesperson might be cathartic, but it's stupid -- for example. And demanding that the airline produce the aircraft when quite obviously that's beyond their power is equally stupid. So given how many of the families have been complete jerks about this to people who are themselves under enormous pressure and have been working 24x7, I don't actually blame the airline for (a) making a best-effort attempt to notify in person and by phone and then (b) falling back to SMS when necessary.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. icon
    Ninja (profile), 24 Mar 2014 @ 11:33am

    Re: Distraction 101



    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Glen, 24 Mar 2014 @ 11:33am

    I was all in on torching the airlines until that second to last paragraph. That kinda stole my thunder. I do hope they will offer counselors or something to those that received the message.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Mar 2014 @ 11:58am

    Gawker sucks

    Is anyone surprised that Gawker is intentionally going with a stupid clickbait headline? That's the entire basis of their publication. They're just a garbage tabloid with terrible, shitty journalists.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. icon
    ChrisB (profile), 24 Mar 2014 @ 12:04pm


    Sue? Because they got a text message? Are you crazy? What did the airline do wrong that is actionable?

    People like you are the reason insurance costs are thru the roof, and warnings like "Do not use hair dryer while asleep," are required on products.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. icon
    lostalaska (profile), 24 Mar 2014 @ 12:49pm

    Text not a big deal...

    Maybe I'm just different, but the type of delivery of the message that they're dead doesn't really matter to me. I really don't see a huge difference between some stranger texting you this versus calling you or having some stranger on your doorstep letting you know. In the end they're all strangers telling you that someone you care about is dead. So you acknowledge what they said and then once they're gone you kind of fall apart into a slumped over, sobbing, heaving mess. I'm in my thirty's now and have gotten quite a few emails, facebook messages and late night phone calls notifying me that someone I cared about at some point in my life had passed away and unless it was someone I was close to informing me of this I could really care less what form the message takes to get to me.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Zonker, 24 Mar 2014 @ 2:51pm

    Re: Distraction 101

    Somewhat off-topic reply regarding B) above, Alaska was Russian for a couple hundred years and has long been a part of the US missile defense shield. Would that not justify Russia invading Alaska to take back their old territory according to your argument? The US did only pay a measly two cents per acre for what turned out to be not only a rich source of oil and fish, but tactically very close to the Russian border. Why should Russia have to honor it's grants of territory to the US, but not the Ukraine?

    If Russia was so upset that their union fell apart, maybe they should look into why it happened in the first place and fix that problem.

    And as to your Godwinian claims in E): [citation needed]. Or is it your opinion that anyone who isn't Jewish must be a Nazi?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Verbatiam, 24 Mar 2014 @ 5:20pm


    As it was opt-in, as was written in the second last paragragh, the families chose to be notifyed in this manner. If the families believed that it was aroblemo they would not have chosen it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Mar 2014 @ 10:31am


    Something about the Malaysian flight story is not adding up. Search - malaysian flight contradictions -

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. icon
    Kaega (profile), 25 Mar 2014 @ 3:24pm

    I wouldn't want to receive a text

    I disagree this was not a poor choice to notify how your family died. It's understandable it could not be done face to face, but if texting was an option why wouldn't a phone call be? This was apparently not a mass text, so they took the time to write each text individually. I don't see a phone call taking much longer.

    I see the argument they "opt[ed] in" to text notification. I have my doubts there was a box...

    [ ] Please notify family by SMS in case of injury or death

    ...on the flight forms. It's likely an option to receive general notifications. I doubt this is the kind of notification they had in mind.

    If phone was not an option, for whatever reason, then I would agree contacting by some means over no means would be preferable. But if I get a text a loved one has died because I opted to get a text notification when my plane was going to be late, I would be very upset.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. icon
    Derek Kerton (profile), 25 Mar 2014 @ 4:27pm

    What if they were NOT texted

    Totally hypothetical. But lets say that a different airline got word of a crash, and notified half of the next of kin by SMS, but took their time sending out humans to knock on the door of the other half with a grief counselor in tow.

    Of course, the press would have the story of the crashed plane all over the news and many would find out that way. many of the half that didn't get the text would be yelling and screaming "Why didn't I get a text? Why was I kept in the dark? I need answers. Something doesn't add up here."

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. icon
    nasch (profile), 25 Mar 2014 @ 7:14pm

    Re: I wouldn't want to receive a text

    I see the argument they "opt[ed] in" to text notification. I have my doubts there was a box...

    [ ] Please notify family by SMS in case of injury or death

    ...on the flight forms. It's likely an option to receive general notifications.

    That seems like an awfully big assumption. There was plenty of time for the airline to discuss with families how they wanted to get news of the investigation.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. icon
    Factvsfiction (profile), 26 Mar 2014 @ 9:46am

    Sob story or distraction, look your stories of this being a distraction is just as much a theory as it being a real tragedy of 239 people being lost at sea and perhaps never found. Where is your compassion and why the heck are you bringing politics into a horrible story. These people aren't in any way distracting us from Snowden and why do you so think your government is out to get you.

    I've read so many of these people who think everything happens because its a cover up to what's going on today. Links to Snowden and a distraction are borderline schizophrenia. You need to get help. To think that the west would use this as a distraction while Russia invades the Ukraine is simply nuts.

    Russia in the past thirty years have been doing quite well without the Ukraine, to enter a sovereign nation is nothing less then total disregard to anyone or any country. Many parts of Russia are ravished with total poverty and while Putin and his circle abuse their powers and take away from the Russian people which is truly theirs. The Ukraine was the bread basket of Europe and was rich in farmland and fed much of Russia as well as Europe. The people of the Ukraine couldn't be happier. Now they are forced to choose sides and because Russia thinks it can just walk in and take away more from the Ukraine is similiar to what Hitler did. Just take and if you don't give we will shoot you.

    Can you not see the repeat in history? Although Russia doesn't have any allies period and are for the most part just playing bullies. Well we will see what the world will say and answer with. Putin won't be laughing long while his country financial systems go bankrupt and people who back him will turn their backs on him because the west will freeze all their assets.

    No one wanted this, the United States are on the brink of depression and it wouldn't be in their best interest to have the Ukraine as part of it's problem. The US has enough of their own and most of us see it. So if you vote then you can whine all you want and that's the time to voice your complaints. It's called democracy and thanks to those before me, Im thankful everyday. Im not a flag waving American and although you might think differently. Please leave the dead to their families. Let them grieve and stop this nonsense of conspiracy theories.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. icon
    Factvsfiction (profile), 26 Mar 2014 @ 9:57am

    Re: Re: I wouldn't want to receive a text

    So very true and I agree totally. The Malaysian government has been anything but transparent. They tell the families one thing one day and the next day something else. TEXTING from an airline to the families that all aboard are lost at sea. No one has even seen confirmation of any debris. The part of the world is a wasteland of debris because like many sea captains admitted, this is where they would dump all their garbage. Until the plane is found that text should never have gone out. The families are so confused one day to the next and if it were your child or your parents brothers or sisters, you would want to see better transparency.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. icon
    John85851 (profile), 26 Mar 2014 @ 2:44pm

    But what about the headline

    Remember, we're talking about news sites that have to fight for people's attention. Which headline would you rather click on:

    1) Malaysian Airlines sends text message to families. (OMG! That's cruel and heartless, those sons of a ***).

    2) Malaysian Airlines sends text messages to families who previous agreed to be notified via text if they were not able to meet with the officials face-to-face. (Oh, okay, I can see why they did that.)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21. identicon
    ceduna accommodation, 24 Jul 2014 @ 3:26am

    malaysian airline

    That was not the best option perhaps. But the Malaysian airline surely did not want it to happen. They must be doing some other things to clean up the mess. Let's not judge them. They have received so much criticism already for over how many months now. The families on the other hand need our prayers. This is a lesson not just for the Malaysian airline but also for every airline in the world.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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