Why you got a Trump text: FEMA's new test alert, explained
FEMA sent a "Presidential Alert" to most Americans' cellphones to test a nationwide emergency system.
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While Wednesday's alert was only a test, an actual presidential alert would mark a significant national crisis.
"When those messages appear on mobile devices, people should take those extremely seriously," Antwane Johnson, director of the IPAWS system, told CBS News. "It has some direct impact on either life or safety."
How FEMA's emergency test works
The test message was sent out at 11:18 a.m. PT/2:18 p.m. ET on Wednesday, though FEMA said it might take a few minutes for the test to make it to all phones. Your phone might have alerted you that the test message arrived in a slightly different manner than normal text notifications.
"WEA includes a special tone (some describe it as quite loud) and a vibration, both repeated twice," according to a description on the FEMA website.
Most newer wireless phones are WEA-compatible, but you can check your phone's packaging or instructions to see if it is WEA-capable. WEA may also be referred to as "government alerts" or "emergency alerts." All the major national wireless carriers and most smaller service providers participate in the WEA program.
Of course, to receive the alert, your phone had to be turned on and connected to a cell tower that allows you to connect to your participating carrier.
While most WEA-enabled phones have a setting to turn off Amber Alerts and emergency alerts sent through the system, a Presidential Alert can't be blocked and should make it through on any compatible phone and network.
The WEA test was to be followed by a nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System, which is a similar message that will be played over broadcast radio and television stations, at 11:20 a.m. PT/2:20 p.m. ET.