Solved: Mystery Behind Strange Florida Text Message

A former Mobile Campus employee tells his story.

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The " monkey got out of the cage" message that went out to 40,000 University of Florida students and faculty has been traced to a former employee of Mobile Campus, the company the school had tapped to implement an emergency text-message alert. Andrew Tatum tells his story to the Independent Florida Alligator:

Tatum, a 24-year-old former Mobile Campus employee, said he was at a friend's house when he decided to see if the company's password was still the same.

He said the message was a joke, spurred by the show "Family Guy" and YouTube Internet cartoons.

Many who received the message assumed it was racially charged, particularly because it went out on the day of President Barack Obama's inauguration.

Tatum said he hadn't taken that into consideration and added that he voted for President Obama in the election.

"I just don't want people thinking I'm racist or that the message was racist in any way," he said.

Mobile Campus, a mobile communication system Florida uses to inform students and staff of emergencies, labeled the text message as improper use and locked its system after the message was sent out at 8:45 p.m. on Jan. 20.

The former UF advertising student said when he clicked the "next" button on the screen after typing the message, he expected to get a screen saying, "Are you sure you want to send this?" with a proceed button. But there was no such screen. And seconds later, the phone of one of Tatum's friends let out a beep. Tatum did not get the message because he's not a UF student.

"I didn't call UPD [the campus police] at that time because I didn't think it was that big of a deal," Tatum said. "But immediately after it went out, I thought, 'This is going to suck.' "