The Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) system test alert will be sent to cell phones at 1:18 p.m., followed by an Emergency Management System (EAS) message at 1:20 p.m., according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
FEMA insists the system will never be used to transmit any sort of personal message from the president.
"Presidential Alerts are not to be used for general communication, and will only be used in cases of extreme national emergencies that affect public safety". FEMA last tested the EAS in 2016 and 2017, and the first wireless emergency alerts were sent in 2012.
At 2:18 p.m. ET on Wednesday, October 3, 2018, you were probably terrified by a noise and message blaring from your nearby smartphone.
The test was originally scheduled for September but was postponed as FEMA responded to Hurricane Florence.
Given Trump's frequent criticism of individuals and groups on Twitter, it's uncomfortable timing that this system is going live under his tenure.
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Here's the kicker - the subject of the alert will read: "Presidential Alert".
What just happened? That odd notification you just received on your smartphone isn't reason for concern, it's simply a scheduled test of the wireless emergency alerts system.
They've since created a "cancellation template" and instilled procedure requiring two officials to sign off before any alert is sent.
You can't, unless you can convince your carrier not to pass it along. This is the first national WEA test.
You should note that even though some phones appear to have settings where you can turn off emergency alerts, this actually won't turn off presidential alerts, which are mandatory for any participating provider.
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. The agency is coordinating with the FCC to test out this system. In January, the Hawaiian islands were thrown into a state of panic when a worker accidentally sent out a statewide ballistic missile warning.