Steven Levy
Oct 3, 2016 · 2 min read

If Trump is president, he’ll make the Wireless Emergency Alert system his own personalized Twitter

Yes, as Peter Moskowitz demonstrates, the Wireless Emergency Alert system is prone to hacking. But what if the hacking were done, perfectly legally, by the one person who has license to do whatever he or she wants with it?

Here’s the three use cases for the system as summarized by Wikipedia.

  • Alerts issued by the President of the United States.
  • Alerts involving imminent threats to safety of life, issued in two different categories: extreme threats and severe threats
  • AMBER Alerts.

Does anything stand out for you — like number one, where the President of the United States gets to determine what gets to interrupt us with a loud noise at any hour and use our mobile devices to get a message before our eyes? Is there any presidential candidate you can think of who likes to stay up late and beam inappropriate messages to millions of people? Who, when he when he’s piqued, has no sense of proportion? Who, when he wants wants attention, will go to extremes to get it?

I am not kidding — if Donald Trump is president and someone clues him in to the fact that he has the power to use this system, it’s a real possibility (if not a certainty) that the next time he wants to engage in slut-shaming, poll-boasting or climate-denying, he’ll make our phones shriek and blast out his message, as if a natural disaster is upon us and we must take shelter.

And except for the natural part, that would be right.

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store