U.S. ‘presidential test alert’ sets American phones to buzzing


OCTOBER 3, 2018

A test text message of the Presidential Alert, National Wireless Emergency Alert System is seen on a mobile phone in New York City, New York, Oct. 3, 2018.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Federal Emergency Management Agency sent an alert aimed at tens of millions of U.S. mobile phones on Wednesday to test a presidential alert system that would warn the public in the event of a national emergency.

The test message from the previously unused alert system was originally scheduled for September but was pushed back to 2:18 p.m. EDT (1818 GMT) on Wednesday.

The alert triggered a loud tone on phones, a special vibration and a message reading: “THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.”

A separate alert on television and radios was issued at 2:20 p.m. EDT.

Federal officials said President Donald Trump was not personally involved in sending the test alert. Such presidential alerts would be sent in the event of a pending missile attack or other national emergency, and U.S. cellphone users are not able opt out of them.

Officials said they expected the alert would go to up to 225 million U.S. mobile phones but would not reach all phones for a variety of reasons. Some people reported not getting the alerts or getting them on a delayed basis.

A mobile phone screenshot of the Emergency Alert sent by FEMA to all U.S. mobile users to test the National Wireless Emergency Alert System, Oct. 3, 2018. (Photo: Diaa Bekheet)

The test alert was the most discussed topic on Twitter. The tests have drawn a lot of attention on social media in part because of Trump’s propensity for sending tweets to his 55 million followers.

On a conference call on Tuesday, government officials told reporters Trump would not personally trigger the alert – from his phone or any other device – and emphasized that no president could “wake up one morning and attempt to send a personal message.”

The test alert was sent by a device similar to a laptop from a FEMA laboratory.

Earlier on Wednesday, a federal judge in New York rejected a request to block the test in a lawsuit filed last month by three New York residents.

Courtesy/Source: Reuters