FEMA test sends first Presidential Alert to US cellphones

Kelley Robertson
October 5, 2018

"No action is needed", the message states. A similar wireless emergency alert test message has been sent to all cell phones nationwide.

They do this using a system known as the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS).

Jennifer Mendelsohn tweeted: 'My brother just texted me "It's like an Amber alert except it's used when someone has abducted your country"'. Like the other emergency alerts, every major wireless carriers and most minor ones participate in the WEA program.

The test was originally scheduled for September 30th, but was delayed due to Hurricane Florence.

It's the same kind of message that warns people of critical situations, including unsafe weather, but the test was put on hold due to a real emergency last month.

A subsequent investigation by the Federal Communications Commission found that the staffer responsible for the message had thought an attack was truly underway, having misinterpreted a drill.

The alerts are issued at the direction of the President (or an appointee) and are activated by FEMA representatives.

The White House, FEMA, and plaintiffs didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.

Still, senior FEMA officials estimate that only about 75 percent of United States cell phones will actually receive today's alert.


That means that no one-including the president-is allowed to abuse the system to send messages that don't have to do with disasters or other safety threats.

Then who pushes the button?

"How he uses technology like not very responsibly".

FEMA is required to test and maintain alert systems and says the aim is to "assess the operational readiness of the infrastructure for distribution of a national message and determine whether improvements are needed". The plaintiffs said the alert system fails to give people the chance to opt out.

Can I Block These Alerts?

FEMA said the test is made available to EAS participants which include radio and television broadcasters, cable systems, satellite radio and television providers, and wireline video providers. "If there's a tsunami, Trump is the last person that I want to get a text from".

Has an alert like this been sent out before?

"People are gonna empty their bowels after getting Wednesday's "Presidential Alert" test text", wrote filmmaker Todd Vaziri. With the message came a loud tone similar to that of an Amber Alert or tornado and flood warning.

In its statement, FEMA said the WEA system is used to warn about unsafe weather, missing children, and other critical situations through cell phone alerts. The other option is to keep your phone from connecting to a cell tower.

The test seemed to go off without a hitch. Older models that are not WEA-capable will not.

Other reports by

Discuss This Article

FOLLOW OUR NEWSPAPER