World News – If you get a text from President Trump today it is a test. Of course social media will blow up and all of the non-Trump supporters will get talking about “how do I opt out” and “I don’t want a text from him” and of course the “Can we reply?”.
With the push of a button — and at the direction of President Donald Trump — an alert will be sent to cellphones across America at 2:18 p.m. ET on Wednesday: “THIS IS A TEST.”
The message is scheduled to be the first trial of the “Presidential Alert” system, a new way to notify Americans across the country of national emergencies.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency oversees the Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) system, which has sent out 40,000 messages to cellphones since its launch in 2012, warning people of everything from local severe weather to Amber Alerts.
The “Presidential Alert” is a new type of WEA notification meant to be used only for national emergencies. Unlike other alerts, people with cellphones cannot opt out of the messages, theoretically giving the president a direct line to the mobile devices of around 95 percent of Americans.
The wireless alert test at 2:18 p.m. ET will be followed by a test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) at 2:20 p.m. ET on television and radio.
The only way for U.S. cellphone users to not get the “Presidential Alert” is to have their phone switched off, not be within range of an active cell tower, or be with a wireless provider not participating in the WEA.
FEMA and the Federal Communications Commission currently have agreements with more than 100 cellular providers who voluntarily participate in the WEA system to ensure their users receive the alert.
FEMA initially announced that they system would be tested on Sept. 20, but later pushed it back to Oct. 3, citing the “ongoing response efforts to Hurricane Florence.”
Reports of the new alert received a flurry of online backlash as many Americans worried the messaging system would be used inappropriately by the president, similar to his Twitter feed.
by Farnoush Amiri, NBCNews.com, Edited by Dan Stevens