A fake earthquake in California notification was sent by California Institute of Technology

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The Los Angeles Times also automatically published a story to its website  and a tweet to its account alerting readers about this. The alert sent droves of reporters in California. “Obviously no one felt it. Because it didn’t happen,” announced later an USGS spokesman. In fact, a 6.8 magnitude earthquake once struck near Santa Barbara in 1925. USGS announced on Twitter that it was a false alarm. About an hour after the initial alert a second e-mail was sent to clarify what was the problem: researchers at the California Institute of Technology mistakenly triggered the notification while working to correct the exact location of the old earthquake in their database.

CaliforniaInstitute
California Institute of Technology

As another strange aspect, the subject line of the wrong e-mail included a date of June 29, 2025. “We have an algorithm (Quakebot) that automatically writes stories about earthquakes based on USGS alerts. The USGS alert was incorrect,” the  Los Angeles Times clarified as their own. The story has a precedent: similar false alert was sent out by Japan’s meteorological agency in August of last year announcing that a 9.1-magnitude quake struck the Tokyo area.

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