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What you need to know about today's presidential cellphone alert

05 October 2018

Reminder: If everything goes according to plan, the Federal Emergency Management Agency will spam your phone at precisely 11:18 a.m. today.

Hollywood stars reacted with humor and sarcasm after receiving the first Presidential Alert. Despite the text saying "no action is needed", people did react: with anger, laughter, frustration, and even memes.

"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".

It's very similar to Amber Alerts, however unlike the noisy notifications that warn people in a particular area of a child abduction, people can not opt out of this one.

If all the cell phones around you spring to life with an ear-piercing alert this afternoon, fear not. But in general, the process calls for the president - or his representative - to authorize FEMA to send an alert on the White House's behalf. But a national warning system was different. At 2:18 pm ET (or shortly after), you should see a text-based notification similar to a weather or AMBER alert.

The test was originally scheduled for September 20, but it was rescheduled because of the ongoing response efforts to Hurricane Florence. "One thing that we need make very clear is that there are laws, policies and procedures that are in place, other protocols to assure that the system is used in accordance with its intended use as defined by the law", Johnson responded.

The WEA message will read: "Presidential Alert". Users cannot opt out of receiving the test message.

But the move has prompted a lawsuit in NY, which says that presidential alerts are a "violation of Americans' First and Fourth Amendment rights to be free from Government-compelled listening, as well as warrantless, non-consensual trespass into and seizure of their cellular devices".

If you're picturing a red button inside a glass box or a fire-alarm-style handle on the wall - this isn't that.

This will also just be the fourth time that a nationwide EAS alert has been tested. "You've probably received one of these alerts if you've been in the path of severe weather events". The alerts are issued at the direction of the President (or an appointee) and are activated by FEMA representatives.

The FEMA official said that in past, smaller tests, about 75% of phones received the alert.

The Emergency Alert System message will be longer.

If you're in range, though, you're getting the alert whether you like it or not.

The message will say: "THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System". The Federal Emergency Management Agency says the "Presidential Alert" message is a test of a new alert system for national emergencies, reports Reuters. If this had been an actual emergency an official message would have followed the tone alert you heard at the start of this message.

What you need to know about today's presidential cellphone alert