The student news site of Broughton High School in Raleigh, North Carolina

The Hi-Times

The student news site of Broughton High School in Raleigh, North Carolina

The Hi-Times

The student news site of Broughton High School in Raleigh, North Carolina

The Hi-Times

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Phone blackout conspiracy theories

A+test+of+the+wireless+emergency+alert+system+is+displayed+on+an+iPhone
CNN
A test of the wireless emergency alert system is displayed on an iPhone

   The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) planned a nationwide emergency alert test for October 4, 2023. With the announcement of the test, conspiracy theories have begun to spread about what could be behind the audio tone sent to cell phones. The conspiracy claims that the alerts sent will activate DNA-damaging nanoparticles such as graphene oxide into people’s bodies. Although the conspiracy could be false, people are uncertain. This isn’t the first time the sound will be used; it’s the same tone used since the 1960s for nationwide emergencies.  A spokesperson from FEMA who is overseeing the test said the audio tone causes no health effects. 

   Concerning the planning for the alert test. The test messages will be sent to all televisions, radios, and cell phones. The national test will consist of two portions: Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) and Emergency Alert System (EAS) capabilities. Both of the tests are scheduled to begin at 2:20 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Oct.4. According to the FEMA official website “The WEA portion of the test will be directed to all consumer cell phones. This will be the third nationwide test, but the second for all cellular devices. The test message will display in either English or in Spanish, depending on the language settings of the wireless handset.” 

   The purpose of this test is to ensure that the systems continue to be an effective means of warning the public about emergencies, specifically at the national level. In case it is postponed due to severe weather or other significant events, the backup testing date is Oct.11. 

The WEA portion will be using FEMA’s Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS), which is a centralized internet-based system by FEMA. The WEA test will be administered via a code sent to cell phones. 

   All wireless phones are going to receive the message only once. Cell towers will broadcast the test for approximately 30 minutes. For consumers, the message will read “THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.”

These alerts are to ensure they are accessible to all of the public. To accommodate people with disabilities, a unique tone and vibration accompany the alerts.

About the Contributor
Leeanne Pacheco, Reporter