Expect to get a text from the president on Wednesday

FEMA is testing out its new Presidential Alert system.
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Want to get a text from the president? If so, great, you'll get one on Wednesday. If not, tough, you'll get one on Wednesday.

Ok, so it's not technically from President Donald Trump – at least, not yet. The U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is conducting a nationwide test of its new "Presidential Alert" feature.

It means your phone will receive an alert starting at around 1:20 p.m. Central time on Wednesday that will be titled "Presidential Alert," which will work in a similar way to an Amber Alert.

It's the first test of the new system, which when rolled out fully will allow President Trump and future presidents to send out nationwide emergency messages.

Want to opt out? Well you can't, though FEMA notes that some cellphones won't get the alert, but most will. You'll get the message if they're within range of an active cell tower during a 30-minute period.

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety has explained what to expect: 

  • Your phone will sound and vibrate once during the 30-minute test window, between 1:18 p.m. and 1:48 p.m. in Minnesota.
  • If your cell phone is switched on, your phone will sound loudly and vibrate, and you’ll receive a one-time message.
  • If your cell phone is switched off, or in airplane mode, it will receive the message as soon as you turn it on, as long as it’s within the 30-minute test window.

As stated earlier, the intention is for the Presidential Alert to be used for advanced warning of national crises, such as an impending natural disaster.

Nonetheless, the program faces opposition, with CBS News reporting that President Trump and FEMA administrator Brock Long is being sued in New York, arguing the alert is a "violation of Americans' First and Fourth Amendment rights to be free from Government-compelled listening, as well as warrantless, non-consensual trespass into and seizure of their cellular devices."

One plaintiff fears that such a system in the hands of President Trump is cause for objection, because "messages sent by Trump typically include disinformation."

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