You may or may not have voted for him, but that doesn’t mean you won’t be getting texts from him.
With inauguration day inching ever closer, so too does the possibility that Donald J. Trump may one day soon be blowing up your phone — you know, with texts. And if his SMS cadence is anything like his Twitter cadence, we may be in for quite a ride.
No, this isn’t some executive order the new commander in chief is considering implementing. Rather, it’s a system we already have in place, and one that, once in office, President Trump could certainly use if he so chooses. It’s known as the Warning, Alert, and Response Network (WARN) Act, which was passed by Congress in 2006, which allows Wireless Emergency Alerts, or WEAs, to be sent to every single cell phone in the U.S. in the case of a national emergency. In fact, you’ve probably gotten one before — any time your phone buzzes with an Amber Alert or you’re notified of bad weather, you have a WEA to thank.
According to the FCC, an alert can be sent if it involves imminent threats to safety or life, is an Amber Alert, or is one issued by the president. And while you can block the first two, you absolutely cannot do anything about the third — Presidential alerts are here to stay.
Of course, Trump won’t have quite as much control over these alerts as he does over his Twitter feed, as all WEAs must first go through FEMA’s Integrated Public Alert & Warning System. So there are checks and balances in place when it comes to Trump sending mass texts to the whole of the country. Plus, using the WEA system requires quite a bit of training, and does not merely involve pulling out your cell phone, tapping out a message, and pressing “send.”
But if you do get a Trump text in the next couple months, now you’ll know how it came about.
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