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Americans Can't Opt Out of Today's 'Presidential Alert'

Message from Trump will be sent to all cellphones
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 3, 2018 3:56 AM CDT
Updated Oct 3, 2018 4:03 AM CDT
President Trump arrives to speak at a campaign rally at the Landers Center Arena, Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2018, in Southaven, Miss.   (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
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(Newser) – A text message from President Trump will be sent to more than 200 million US cellphones in a test starting at 2:18pm Eastern on Wednesday—but officials stress that the president won't be texting Americans on a regular basis. The Federal Emergency Management Agency says the "Presidential Alert" message is a test of a new alert system for national emergencies, reports Reuters. "THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed," the message will read, according to FEMA, which says the alert will have a loud tone and a "special vibration."

A senior FEMA official said Tuesday that the message will not be coming from Trump's phone and use of the system will be restricted to events like major attacks on US cities or "some other type of public peril," CNN reports. "The president will not originate this alert, say, from his mobile device," the official said. "You would not have a situation where any sitting president would wake up one morning and attempt to send a particular message." Former Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson tells CBS that the system is definitely "not something that should be used for a political agenda"—especially since there is no way for Americans to opt out of receiving the alerts. The test was originally scheduled for Sept. 20, but it was postponed due to Hurricane Florence. (Read more President Trump stories.)

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