from the opt-in dept

malaysian airllineText 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.