The emergency phone number in the US and Canada is 911. In Lagos, Nigeria the numbers for ambulance, fire and police emergencies are 112 and 767.
“If you need to call 911 but are scared to because of someone in the room, dial and ask for a pepperoni pizza,” the meme reads. “They'll ask if there's someone in the room.”
It says emergency dispatchers “are trained to ask specific yes or no questions... don’t hang up!”
Will pretending to order a pepperoni pizza on an emergency phone line alert the operator that you’re in danger?
Advice based on real incident
In 2014, US media site BuzzFeed published the story of a former 911 operator. He had received a call from a woman said she wanted to order a pizza. The operator realised that she was in danger but couldn’t speak openly, and sent a police officer to her home.
The story was widely shared across US media, and inspired a widely seen TV advert by No More, a US non-profit organisation working to end domestic violence and sexual assault.
Soon, memes similar to the one on Facebook appeared on social media, advising people that 911 operators were trained to respond to callers ordering pizza.
Police debunk pizza code
In March 2018, several media articles reported that the US police said people shouldn’t follow the advice in the memes.
On 21 March 2018, the Los Angeles Police Department tweeted about the meme: “That is false. Operators are trained to recognise voice inflection, odd conversations that would indicate a dangerous situation, among other things.”
Even if you’re in the US or Canada, ordering a pepperoni pizza when calling 911 won’t necessarily signal to the operator that you need help. – Eileen Jahn
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Africa Check teams up with Facebook
Africa Check is a partner in Facebook’s third-party fact-checking programme to help stop the spread of false information on social media.
The content we rate as “false” will be downgraded on Facebook and Instagram. This means fewer people will see it.
You can also help identify false information on Facebook. This guide explains how.