This Wednesday, everyone in the U.S. will receive a text message from President Donald Trump.
All cell phones in the United States will receive a text to test an alert system designed to warn Americans about national disasters or emergencies, CBS News reported.
For the first time ever on Wednesday, Americans nationwide will receive an alert on their cell phones from President Trump. The test, scheduled for 2:18 p.m. ET, is the first test of a national presidential alert system warning about a crisis. https://t.co/f1QloY3mGB pic.twitter.com/pcNZnMZCzB
— CBS This Morning (@CBSThisMorning) October 2, 2018
On FEMA’s website, it states that the warning system will “provide the president with the communications capability to address the nation during a national emergency.”
The test is scheduled to be sent on Wednesday, Oct. 3 at 2:18 p.m. EDT. The text will carry a header stating, “Presidential Alert.” The text will then say: “THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.”
“When those messages appear on mobile devices, people should take those extremely seriously,” said FEMA’s Antwane Johnson. “It has some direct impact on either life or safety.”
“If we have something that’s of national significance, we can rapidly notify the American public of that event,” Johnson added.
An announcement regarding the test was issued in July by the Trump Administration. Still, some are not happy about the upcoming message from the President.
Last month when the upcoming message made headlines, actress Alyssa Milano tweeted, “I don’t want this. How do we opt out, @fema?”
I don’t want this. How do we opt out, @fema? I know trump isn’t big on consent but I don’t consent to this. https://t.co/A04twRU39p
— Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa_Milano) September 15, 2018
While users can disable alert system warnings on more minor alerts, they cannot opt out of this alert. Under federal law, users can opt out of the alerts for “imminent threats” and Amber Alerts about abducted children but “not for presidential messages,” FEMA warned.
Congress authorized the public safety alert system in 2008. It became operational in 2012 and has been used regionally. This is the first time the system will be used as a presidential order.
The first national test of the “wireless emergency alerts” was originally scheduled for Sept. 20. However, the effects of Tropical Storm Florence delayed it several weeks.
📳TOMORROW (Wednesday) 10/3: Expect to get a test emergency alert message on your phone at 2:18 PM EDT.
You’ll hear a loud tone & vibration. This is a nationwide test of the Wireless Emergency Alert system.
Questions? Check out https://t.co/Op8T9AEpiF. pic.twitter.com/RIdPay87eN
— FEMA (@fema) October 2, 2018
The wireless emergency alert system has sent more than 36,000 alerts for various incidents, including missing children, extreme weather and natural disasters, since its inception in 2012.
Cell towers will broadcast the WEA test for approximately 30 minutes beginning at 2:18 p.m.
A statement by FEMA explained that national emergencies are the only incidence in which the alerts can be sent. The president is the only one responsible for deciding when to use a national-level warning.
FEMA also said the Trump Administration will issue a test alert through radio and television broadcasts approximately two minutes following the cell phone alert. Programming will be interrupted for one minute.
There have been problems in the past with state alerts, but new procedures to ensure more precise targets have been approved by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission for use in 2019.
In Hawaii, a false alert was issued in January warning of a missile attack from North Korea. The alert created pandemonium and went undetected for 38 minutes after it was issued to cell phones and broadcast stations. It was later attributed to human error and insufficient security.