You can unfollow Donald Trump on social media, but you can’t block certain emergency texts on your mobile phone. Will the president-elect try to message you without permission?
That’s the question addressed by hoax-busting site Snopes.com, which Thursday looked into reports that Trump will have access to a system that sends “unblockable” texts.
Snopes says it’s true that a Federal Communications Commission system enables unblockable emergency alerts to cellular phones but cautions: “No information [suggests] that President-elect Trump had plans to frivolously mass text the United States.”
The thought apparently originated in New York Magazine, which this week published “the first of several articles reporting that as of 20 January 2017, Donald Trump would acquire the ability to send ‘unblockable’ text messages to all American citizens.”
These 90-character messages are known as Wireless Emergency Alerts (or WEAs).
The magazine said: “All WEAs must be issued through FEMA’s Integrated Public Alert & Warning System, meaning that an emergency alert from the president still has at least one layer to pass through before being issued. While FEMA is under control of the executive branch (the head of FEMA is selected by the president, and reports to the Department of Homeland Security), the agency would have a vested interest in not seeing their alert system bent toward, uh, non-emergency ends.”
But Snopes notes: “Although media speculation held that Trump could (and implicitly would) use the WEA frivolously to annoy Americans with insults in the middle of the night, the Federal Communications Commission explicitly states the system is for use in emergencies only.”