No can do. You'll likely receive the message automatically, unless your phone is turned off, you're not close enough to a cell tower or your wireless provider doesn't participate in WEA. In addition to the Wireless Emergency Alert on your phone, you may see a warning displayed on television and broadcasted on radio at 2:20 p.m. EDT as part of EAS (Emergency Alert System) testing. The national test will use the same special tone and vibration as with all WEA messages.
Did your phone alert you of a unusual message this afternoon?
The wireless alert system launched in 2012.
So... Can I opt out?
"That's the whole point of conducting these tests, so we as the government can determine where the deficiencies are so we can go back and make improvements", said Mahoning County EMA Director Dennis O'Hara.
The system will affect users with a United States phone number, as well as some visitors, the agency said, and it is not possible to opt out, though some older phones do not support the technology. Some got as many as four alerts on their phones; others didn't get any.
But given the alert goes out to a huge portion of Americans - today's test will be sent to 225 million electronic devices, reaching about 75% of the devices in the country according to Bloomberg- we can assume only a dire national incident would prompt such a high-level alert.
A number of iPhone users on AT&T's network - including this reporter - did not receive the notification until they had rebooted their smartphones.
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"The Communications Act of 1934 established the authority for the President to use certain private sector communications systems for priority communications, such as sending alert and warning messages to the public, during national emergencies", FEMA wrote.
This marked the first national test of the so-called "wireless emergency alerts".
It's also worth noting that such emergency alert systems are not infallible.
"When those messages appear on mobile devices, people should take those extremely seriously", Antwane Johnson, director of the IPAWS system, told CBS News. This will be the fourth nationwide test of the EAS after similar tests in 2011, 2016, and 2017.
Didn't get the president alert from FEMA on Wednesday?
Presidential Alerts: These alerts are (by law) only used to alert the public of national emergencies-think terrorist attacks or widespread natural disasters. Essentially, plaintiffs are concerned that because President Donald Trump consistently "disseminates ... politically biased messages" they worry the same thing will happen with the alerts.
As they say. this was just a test.