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Radio News: Trump could send Wireless Emergency Alerts to every American

Dec 01, 2016 10:50 pm
Jake Swearingen at New York Magazine wonders in print, after reading so many Tweets from Donald Trump over the past year, what the next president will do when he gets his hands on Wireless Emergency Alerts. They are messages sent to every American with a device to receive texts, and there are only three kinds:

1. Alerts issued by the President

2. Alerts involving imminent threats to safety or life

3. Amber Alerts

Since the Warning, Alert, and Response Network Act passed in 2006 creating the current system, there has not been a single message sent to the entire nation for any reason. If Trump decides to send messages to everyone, he'll have to be brief, as Wireless Emergency Alerts (or WEAs) are only 90 characters, 50 shorter than Twitter's 140 character missives. Cell phone carriers may allow subscribers to block most of these messages, but not ones that come from the President. So if the new president suggests Americans watch a pornographic film at 3 a.m., as he did on Twitter during the campaign, all Americans will know.