What was that?: Mobile device Amber alerts

Jul 29, 2013

Have you ever gotten a random text message from a number you didn't recognize? What about an alert from local authorities? Many local residents received a late night message regarding an Amber Alert to their mobile devices.

Around 10:45 Sunday night, many mobile device users across the region received a message regarding an Amber Alert for a child in Tom Green County (which has since been canceled), and many of them took to social media for answers.

[View the story "Late night Amber alert" on Storify]

So what was it? Back in April, the FCC and FEMA joined together to create the Wireless Emergency Alerts system (WEA).  They are alerts that get automatically sent to any mobile device connected to the affected cell tower.

The alerts come in three categories: Amber Alerts, Emergency Alerts, and Presidential Alerts. You may opt out of the Amber and Emergency Alerts, but not the Presidential.  To opt out, check your notification settings within your mobile device.

Not all mobile devices are capable of receiving these alerts, so check with your local cell provider to see if your device is capable.