1st Presidential Alert Lights Up Phones Wednesday Afternoon

Presidential Alert- FEMA WEA Test

This is the U.S. government we're talking about here, so get ready for some acronyms.

Millions of Americans with a USA telephone number became a part of history on Wednesday afternoon - whether they were aware of it or not.

The alert will not come across a phone if it is powered off. Cellphones must be equipped to support the Wireless Emergency Alert System to comply. It was originally named the Personal Localized Alerting Network (PLAN), was later renamed the Commercial Mobile Alert System (CMAS), and is now finally the WEA.

FEMA didn't force wireless carriers to participate, but as NBC News notes, a lot of them did anyway.

Comic Kathy Griffin, a longtime Trump critic, used her Twitter account to show a phony Presidential Alert reading: "FAILED COMIC KATHY GRIFFIN IS TRYING TO DESTROY A GREAT MAN, BRETT KAVANAUGH!"

The Department of Homeland Security posted a reminder about the test on Twitter on Tuesday, and reassured phone users that their numbers are not being shared with anyone.

The wireless alert system launched in 2012.

"Oh my. A "Presidential Alert" emergency". But those Amber and weather alerts target specific regions. Weather alerts can be sent nationwide, but not all at once like Presidential alerts. They are also typically sent to targeted geographic regions. This is the first national WEA test.

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What Can I Expect Today?

It wasn't immediately clear which cell providers are participating Wednesday, but Sprint customer service officials tweeted out a link to the FEMA primer. Eastern and the WEA test is being sent at 2:18 p.m. "No action is needed", the full text will read.

The EAS test will be sent at 2:20 p.m.

"THIS IS A TEST of the National Emergency Alert System". It's an emergency test message, as part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency's system to warn the entire nation in the event of a national emergency. First, an alert tone, followed by a message sent to cellular devices all across the country.

Is it a message from President Trump? So, it makes you check and look to see what's going on.

The test lasted for approximately 30 minutes. That's one of the things they are testing. "Additionally, if a user is on a call, or with an active data session open on their phone, they might not have received the message".

And no, you can't turn off the Presidential Alert. "In the case of a tornado warning, that lag could get you killed".

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