Hundreds of millions of US phones receive first ever ‘Presidential alert’ text

Hundreds of millions of phones and other electronic devices have been sent the first ever ‘Presidential Alert’ text.

Around 225million devices received the message at 2:18pm EDT Wednesday, which read

‘Presidential Alert. ‘THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.’

epa07067198 A screenshot showing a 'Presidential Alert' test message appears on the screen of a Apple iPhone X as the US Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) tested its nationwide wireless emergency alert system on a majority of wireless devices in the US in Norfolk, Massachusetts, USA, 03 October 2018. The test, which cannot be opted out of unlike weather alerts or AMBER alerts which users can chose not to receive, has generated complaints and even a lawsuit in New York to attempt to stop it. EPA/MATT CAMPBELL

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

It is the first test of the national wireless emergency system by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

The text paves the way for future high-level ‘presidential’ alert that would be transmitted in the event of a nationwide emergency.

FEMA officials said Tuesday they would share test result data on how the testing went with mobile carriers to help ensure the system works well in a true emergency.

The message was broadcast by cell towers for 30 minutes, meaning some devices may have received it later than others.

U.S. President Donald Trump delivers remarks on the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) during a news conference in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, U.S., October 1, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has insisted the system will only be used in the event of a national emergency, and will not be used to send personal messages from President Trump (Picture: Reuters)


And it is impossible to escape unless your phone is switched off, with the tone sounding on phones that have meet muted or set to ‘Do not disturb.’

The presidential alert angered some who said they did not wish to receive a text from President Trump’s administration.

Three people sued claiming it breached their constitutional rights, but New York District Judge Katherine Polk Failla rejected a last minute attempt to block it.

FEMA insists the system will never be used to transmit any sort of personal message from the president.


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