Government to send test alert messages Wednesday to cell phones

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The tests have drawn a lot of attention on social media in part because of President Donald Trump's propensity for sending tweets to his 55 million followers.

"The president will not originate this alert, say, from his mobile device", a senior FEMA official said on a conference call Tuesday.

All cellphone users will be receiving the alert which will read: "THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System".

The test will begin at 2:18 ETpm and gradually roll out to smartphone owners over a 30-minute period, so if you don't get it immediately, just wait.

Additional results from EAS participant station reception and broadcast of the national test message will be collected over the next month and reported later and compared against previous test results. It was previously supposed to be tested on September 20, 2018 but was "postponed until October 3, 2018 due to ongoing response efforts to Hurricane Florence". But to be clear, this new bulletin's roots stretch back over a decade.

These alerts will come from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

President Barack Obama signed the 2015 "Integrated Public Alert and Warning System Modernization Act" into law in 2016.

In its statement, FEMA said the WEA system is used to warn about risky weather, missing children, and other critical situations through cell phone alerts.

But how you feel about national alerts may have a lot to do with how you feel about whoever happens to occupy the White House.

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"If I couldn't opt out of it I wouldn't mind".

You can't, unless you can convince your carrier not to pass it along.

Legislation about emergency alerts have been rising since 9/11.

Only telecom operators who have participated can push the alert to WEA-compatible phones.

But some people with phones that met these criteria did not receive the text message.

So we asked FEMA why some people didn't get the alerts.

Twitter user Ed Krassenstein posted a graphic which read: 'Presidential Alert: The Clintons are coming!

The federal government is required by law to test its alerting systems every three years. Most wireless alerts, like missing children messages, are sent by local and state governments and confined to phones in a particular region. It has grown more sophisticated since it was created in the 1950s, and now includes a system to send warnings to cellphones, too.

We'll have to see whether that limitation holds up.