From the Cookie Monster cat to ballistic missiles: when text and email alerts go wrong

The US embassy in Australia spammed recipients with a picture of a cat this week – but that’s nothing compared with other recent message fails

The US embassy in Canberra, Australia, sent out an email invitation this week to untold numbers of recipients, in Latin, with a picture of a cat holding biscuits in a turquoise Cookie Monster onesie. It was, of course, an error, though not one I can see any reasonable person being truly irked by. It also wasn’t the first of its kind. In 2014, the retailer Fab followed up its own subscriber-destined email of nothing but a cat with another, featuring two cats, explaining that it had been “purrrly a mistake”, and attaching an apologetic 10% discount code.

Messaging systems the world over seem to be having a bad year of it, spanning the full spectrum of societal anxiety, from A-level results to intercontinental ballistic missiles.

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