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FEMA Sends First 'Presidential Alert' To Millions Of Americans' Cell Phones

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PHILADELPHIA (CBS/CNN) – Millions of Americans received President Donald Trump's "Presidential Alert"  on Wednesday afternoon.

Trump, in coordination with The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), conducted a nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) on Wednesday.

A majority of cellphone owners received an alert at 2:18 p.m., titled "Presidential Alert," accompanied by "THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed."

The test lasted for approximately 30 minutes.

"I think it's a good idea if there's some kind of breach in our networks, our internet and everything like that," said George Lang.

"With today's society, it's something that was needed and it's sad to say that but I think it's a great thing that they're doing," said Cecilia Stevenson.

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While emergency alerts are well established on TV and radio, some feel the phone alert is an evasion of privacy.

"I don't know it's scary," said Kareem Lundy.

"Did it feel invasive?" asked reporter Cleve Bryan

"Very, very. I believe so. I mean just a minute ago I heard everybody's phone go off in the entire mall," said Lundy.

There are also those who question if President Trump would abuse the system.

"How he uses technology like not very responsibly. He says whatever he wants," said Gina Lombardo.

By law though, the system cannot be used for personal messages from the president.

The test was originally scheduled for Sept. 20, but was pushed back to Oct. 3 due to ongoing response efforts to Hurricane Florence, according to FEMA.

While the WEA system was founded in 2012, this will be the first time FEMA has tested the system with the president involved. The test will "assess the operational readiness of the infrastructure for distribution of a national message and determine whether improvements are needed," according to a FEMA press release.

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The WEA system is used to warn the public about dangerous weather, missing children and other critical situations.

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