False earthquake alerts went off Wednesday on Android smartphones in Iran as the country continues to grapple with nationwide protests. Authorities offered conflicting accounts as to why the incident happened.
Col. Ramin Pashaei, deputy chief of Iran’s cyber police, told Iranian state television that only Android phones received the false alert. He blamed testing at state-owned service provider Iran Mobile Communications Co. for the alert.
Meanwhile, Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency described the incident as a hack and said: “This message is fake; do not leave your homes.” The two conflicting accounts of the event could not be immediately reconciled.
Google, which provides the Android software, said: “The Android Earthquake Alerts System did not issue a warning in the region during this time frame.” The company did not elaborate.
Iran has seen a series of hacks since the Sept. 16 death of a 22-year-old woman named Mahsa Amini after her detention by the country's morality police. Her death has sparked months of protests that now include calls for the overthrow of Iran's theocracy, one of the greatest challenges faced by Tehran since the chaotic years after its 1979 Islamic Revolution.