Today, President Donald Trump will now send you a text message, whether you like it or not.
At approximately 2:20 p.m. (EST), every smartphone in America will receive a test message as part of the Wireless Emergency Alert System. This system is part of a test of the FEMA infrastructure test of readiness in case of emergency but will be controlled under the power of Trump. There is no way to opt out of receiving this “Presidential Alert.”
According to the FEMA website, more than 100 cell phone providers have agreements with FEMA to participate in the alert message. It is expected that at least 95 percent of Americans will receive the following text: “THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed. If this had been an actual emergency an official message would have followed the tone alert you heard at the start of this message.”
Then, about two minutes later, another text message from the Emergency Alert System will go out to all broadcast, cable, satellite and wireless providers. This will interrupt any programs that are currently being aired.
There is strong concern over the need of a Wireless Emergency Alert System controlled by President Trump because of his past erratic behavior on the social media platform Twitter, especially since the FEMA Emergency Alert System is already in place. FEMA spokesperson Jenny Burke told NBC News, “News of the test spurred an online backlash and a flood of calls to FEMA, which has been inundated with requests to opt out of the alert — hampering the agency’s ongoing emergency response to Hurricane Florence.”
It is unknown if Trump will attempt to misuse this power as a political tool to make announcements. According to current law, such an action would be illegal. But the concern over an emergency alert earlier this year in Hawaii is being used as an example of what can happen. By mistake, Hawaii went into a state of panic when a worker from the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency mistakenly sent out a message that read, “BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL”
That message caused residents to seek shelter, gather loved ones and wait for death until an hour later another message went out stating it was a false alarm.