Donald Trump Sends Americans First Nationwide Presidential Alert Text

Donald Trump Sends Americans First Nationwide Presidential Alert Text

Lindsey Duncan
October 4, 2018

The alert won't have any substantial content - it's just a system test - but this sets a whole new precedent for how Americans are informed.

The presidential alert can only be activated by the current president, but the reasons for doing so are legally defined. The message sent must relate to a natural disaster, act of terrorism, or a threat to public safety.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency estimated about 225 million electronic devices, or about 75 percent of all mobile phones in the country, would receive the alert. Your phone might have alerted you that the test message arrived in a slightly different manner than normal text notifications.

The tests were originally set to take place September 20, but the situation with Hurricane Florence in the southeastern United States caused the tests to be delayed until Wednesday. If this had been an actual emergency an official message would have followed the tone alert you heard at the start of this message.

"In 2019, the Whatcom County Sheriff's Office is scheduled to be granted access by FEMA to this system so that we can provide these same types of alerts locally during emergencies that are affecting our community", Gargett said.

Can I silence my phone or turn off the alert?

It has comments dating all the way to present day, so if you're really wanting to try to disable presidential alerts, this might be your best source. Those rules were outlined in a 2006 law, so the alert system can't be used for personal messages from the president.

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Along with the Presidential Alert, the WEA is responsible for sending out AMBER Alerts when a child is abducted or when there is extreme weather in a given area.

Marshall County Emergency Management coordinator Kim Elder said the emergency alerts are necessary.

Because the message is meant to include "critical lifesaving information", it's created to reach as many cellphones as possible, even those that aren't activated or don't have SIM cards.

"The test will assess the operational readiness of the infrastructure for distribution of a national message and determine whether improvements are needed", according to FEMA. The alert will not interrupt a phone call or an active data session, though FEMA and the FTC are working to make sure the information reaches more people.

The message may also appear on smartwatches connected to cellphones, FEMA said.