Who dis? First Presidential Alert prompts jokes on social media

This is a test of the National Wireless Joke and Meme system.

Gael Cooper
CNET editor Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, a journalist and pop-culture junkie, is co-author of "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops? The Lost Toys, Tastes and Trends of the '70s and '80s," as well as "The Totally Sweet '90s." She's been a journalist since 1989, working at Mpls.St.Paul Magazine, Twin Cities Sidewalk, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and NBC News Digital. She's Gen X in birthdate, word and deed. If Marathon candy bars ever come back, she'll be first in line.
Expertise Breaking news, entertainment, lifestyle, travel, food, shopping and deals, product reviews, money and finance, video games, pets, history, books, technology history, and generational studies Credentials
  • Co-author of two Gen X pop-culture encyclopedia for Penguin Books. Won "Headline Writer of the Year"​ award for 2017, 2014 and 2013 from the American Copy Editors Society. Won first place in headline writing from the 2013 Society for Features Journalism.
Gael Cooper
2 min read

So did you get your text from President Donald Trump? 

The first-ever Presidential Alert text message went out at 11:18 a.m. PT/2:18 p.m. ET on Wednesday. There was no national emergency: It was a test of the government's ability to send a text message to as many Americans as possible. The text read, "Presidential Alert: THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert system. No action is needed."

Naturally, jokesters all over social media found that some action was indeed needed, and started with the spoofing and memes.

Staffers at BBC North America decided to put all their phones together just before the alert and take a video of them all (well, most of them) going off at once.

Many envisioned what the alert would be like coming from different people, or at different times. The official Twitter feed for George Washington's home, Mount Vernon, invited readers to share alerts as the first president might have written them. One, obviously referencing Paul Revere's famed ride, read, ""Hey Paul, I can handle this...PRESIDENTIAL ALERT: THE BRITISH ARE COMING!"

Some U.S. zoos had an even cuter use for the alert, using it to showcase cute zoo animals.

Many jokes were sports-related, proclaiming, "Peyton Manning is a choker," or "The Yankees will win tonight's Wild Card game."

Some tweets, including one from talk-show host Jimmy Kimmel, were aimed at skewering the president. Kimmel mocked up an alert that read, "WITCH HUNT, CROOKED HILLARY, NO COLLUSION, CONFIRM KAVANAUGH, #MAGA."

Many offered up tweaks on the alert's content, with one Twitter user even providing a blank canvas for Photoshopping.

And others poked fun at the whole situation, including one proclaiming, "HEY EVERYONE, cell phones are cancelled. We are switching back to beepers. Send me your beeper numbers."

Some didn't find the jokes terribly funny. Wrote one Twitter user, "DON'T BE UNEDUCATED. The alert is run by FEMA, and planned to be used mainly for National Disaster alerts. Trump is not texting you. Chill out."

And as of press time, some still hadn't received the alert, and were wondering why.

Special Reports: CNET's in-depth features in one place.

Culture: Your hub for everything from film and television to music, comics, toys and sports.