What you need to know about today's presidential cellphone alert

Laverne Mann
October 4, 2018

This will be the first time ever the government is testing the national emergency alert system.

While Wednesday's alert was only a test, an actual presidential alert would mark a significant national crisis.

Reminder: If everything goes according to plan, the Federal Emergency Management Agency will spam your phone at precisely 11:18 a.m. today.

Hurricane Florence may have interrupted the first scheduled test of the Wireless Emergency Alert system that was scheduled September 20, but expect your phone to be buzzing today.

Here's the kicker - the subject of the alert will read: "Presidential Alert".

The message sent to cell phones will be similar to AMBER alerts and inclement weather warnings that are now currently being used. Users cannot opt out of receiving the test message.

Despite being called a "Presidential Level Alert" emergency messages sent through the system won't be written by Donald Trump or any other president.

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But for all the hand-wringing about whether President Trump would abuse the system a la his hyper-active Twitter account, it seems there's actually very little to worry about here. But you'll likely need to get an older phone for that, since most newer phones are made to be compatible.

Phones with mobile carriers that participate in the wireless emergency alert system, which sends out information on hazardous weather, or missing children, will get the alert.

Blasted out by cell towers nationwide over a 30-minute period, the message was expected to reach some 225 million people in an unprecedented federal exercise. Your phone might have alerted you that the test message arrived in a slightly different manner than normal text notifications.

"The President will not originate this alert, say, from his mobile device", a senior FEMA official told reporters on Tuesday. Along with the occasional AMBER Alert, Elder said the WEA and its state-level counterpart the Wireless Emergency Network (WEN) also sent out messages during the July 19 tornadoes in several counties.

Legislation about emergency alerts have been rising since 9/11.

A NY federal judge has refused to block the Federal Emergency Management Agency from conducting its emergency alert test on telephones.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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