For many years now, most people have known that eventually, we would see a “presidential alert” test. Now, FEMA has set the tentative date of September 20th to conduct the test.
Before anyone can ask about “opting out of the texts,” the answer is no. Also, you won’t be seeing a ton of messages from the president like some people suggest you will. The alerts are only for emergencies, such as the U.S. being attacked by terrorists or other countries. The test messages will not only be sent to your phone but also be shared on television and radio.
The text that will be sent to you is basically like the messages you saw on TV when you were young but much quieter (if your sound is off) and convenient for you and your ears.
This testing of the alert system is not the first test that has been done, but it is the first to be done nationwide on mostly everyone’s phone. The systems that will be used are the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and the Wireless Emergency Alerts system (WEA). WEA is used locally to alert the public in the event of an AMBER alert or dangerous weather conditions.
The system was under fire back in January when residents of Hawaii were warned of an upcoming missile strike. One problem: there were no missiles, and the alert was a result of a combination of human error and a poorly designed computer interface.
The alerts were established in 2006 under the president at the time, George W. Bush. This was done so the White House could send out alerts to the general public if needed. The messages could be sent out at the president’s discretion but most experts and reporters have downplayed the chances of the system being misused.