Home Misleading Potentially Misleading ‘Tip’ about iPhone Emergency SOS Function

Potentially Misleading ‘Tip’ about iPhone Emergency SOS Function

by Brett M. Christensen

According to a post that is currently circulating on Facebook, you can use the SOS feature included with Apple iPhones to “send a ping to the nearest police station”.  

The post claims that after you swipe SOS and your GPS sends the ping, a police officer will be dispatched immediately to your exact location. However,  as discussed below, the circulating message is misleading and inaccurate.

Here’s a transcript of the message:

Ladies with iPhones! Helpful tip if you’re ever in a dangerous or threatening situation. Push the lock button on the side 5 times in a row and you will get this screen. Swipe the SOS and your GPS will send a ping to the nearest police station and an officer will be dispatched immediately to your exact location. Stay safe! 

SOS System Does NOT Automatically Ping Local Police or Dispatch an Officer

The Emergency SOS feature in iOS 11 does indeed provide a quick and easy way to call for help in an emergency situation.

When you access the SOS function, your iPhone can automatically call the designated emergency number in your location.  And, after you finish the call, the phone can automatically send text messages with your current location to your listed emergency contacts.

But, it is important to note that SOS will NOT automatically send a text message or ping to local police.  Nor will an officer be immediately and automatically dispatched to your location as claimed in the message. You will need to talk to the emergency services staff member just as you would with any other emergency call. Whether or not a police officer is sent to you will depend on your situation.
If you have added emergency contacts to your phone, the SOS system can send text messages to these contacts. However, you CANNOT set emergency services as an SOS contact.

A help file about the Emergency SOS feature on the Apple website notes:

When you make a call with SOS, your iPhone automatically calls the local emergency number. In some countries and regions, you might need to choose the service that you need. For example, in China you can choose police, fire, or ambulance.


You can also add emergency contacts. After an emergency call ends, your iPhone alerts your emergency contacts with a text message, unless you choose to cancel. Your iPhone sends them your current location, and, for a period of time after you enter SOS mode, it sends updates to your emergency contacts when your location changes.

How to Use SOS Depends on the Type of iPhone

The message instructs you to push the phone’s  side button five times to reveal the SOS slider. This is true for iPhone 7 or earlier.  However, for iPhone X, iPhone 8, or iPhone 8 Plus, you reveal the SOS slider by holding the side button and one of the volume buttons.

And, the exact functionality of the system may depend on where you live.  (In India, pressing the side button three times will call emergency services).

Learn How to Use SOS But Don’t Share The Misleading Tip

Rather than share this misleading and inaccurate message, it would perhaps be wiser to visit the Apple help file for the feature and learn how it works for your phone and then advise your iPhone using friends to do the same.

A screenshot of the post:

iPhone SOS Tip

Importance Notice

After considerable thought and with an ache in my heart, I have decided that the time has come to close down the Hoax-Slayer website.

These days, the site does not generate enough revenue to cover expenses, and I do not have the financial resources to sustain it going forward.

Moreover, I now work long hours in a full-time and physically taxing job, so maintaining and managing the website and publishing new material has become difficult for me.

And finally, after 18 years of writing about scams and hoaxes, I feel that it is time for me to take my fingers off the keyboard and focus on other projects and pastimes.

When I first started Hoax-Slayer, I never dreamed that I would still be working on the project all these years later or that it would become such an important part of my life. It's been a fantastic and engaging experience and one that I will always treasure.

I hope that my work over the years has helped to make the Internet a little safer and thwarted the activities of at least a few scammers and malicious pranksters.

A Big Thank You

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I would especially like to thank David White for his tireless contribution to the Hoax-Slayer Facebook Page over many years. David's support has been invaluable, and I can not thank him enough.

Closing Date

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Thank you, one and all!

Brett Christensen,