Everyone got this text message today, here's why

Todd Singleton
October 4, 2018

There's no reason for alarm but knowing about it beforehand will likely save you a few minutes researching the unexpected notification on your phone.

While it's the first national test of the new wireless emergency alert system, similar tests were conducted in 2011, 2016 and 2017.

It's called the "presidential alert", but the President doesn't actually write it.

Cell phone owners in the United States will receive WEA alerts from the president regardless of whether their carrier allows them to opt out of the other alerts.

All modern cellphones that meet the WEA criteria will receive these messages.

FEMA invites the public to send comments on the nationwide EAS-WEA test to FEMA-National-Test@fema.dhs.gov.

This alert was originally scheduled for September 20, but rescheduled for Wednesday after Hurricane Florence. While those can be turned off, the 2006 Warning, Alert and Response Network Act stipulates that the "Presidential Alert" cannot.

If you still believe you were near a tower and didn't get the alert or if you want to provide feedback, FEMA wants to hear from you.

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The message was accompanied by a high-pitched tone similar to that received during an Amber Alert of flood warning.

"When those messages appear on mobile devices, people should take those extremely seriously", Antwane Johnson, director of the IPAWS system, told CBS News. The goal is to have phones get the alert at the same time.

Not everyone was pleased about the decision to send out the test alert. The message will pop up as an alert saying "This is a test of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System".

FEMA officials say they expect the alert to reach 75 percent of wireless-enabled devices, including cell phones and smartwatches. The EAS has had tests like these in recent years. The Federal Communication Commission is working in conjunction with FEMA on the test.

"Oh my. A "Presidential Alert" emergency".

The beep of the test alert echoed through Times Square, causing some pedestrians to look up in confusion before turning back to their phones and continuing with their day.

No one can opt out of these alerts - and only the president has the ability to decide if or when those alerts are sent.

Other reports by Free-Prsite

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