Wireless carrier AT&T on Saturday apologized to U-verse subscribers after a false emergency warning was issued through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The warning reportedly flashed to viewers in Tennessee, Texas, Michigan, Georgia and areas in southern Mississippi and automatically changed to local NBC news affiliate.
The warning started to flash from 10 am on October 24 and advised users to avoid using phone lines as there was an important message from the White House. Several people were shocked by the announcement and lashed out the carrier on social-network sites. However the alert did not create any widespread panic like the situation in 1938 when HG Wells “War of the Worlds” was read on radio.
“This false message was carried on our network, as well as some other subscribers,” said an AT&T spokesperson.
The alert message was displayed in a red and white banner, according to a YouTube video. Rafael Lemaitre, an AT&T spokesperson confirmed that a technical glitch caused an inappropriate playing of the national alert tones on syndicated radio broadcast. The Federal Communications Commission and the FEMA will probe the and ascertain the incident.
The FEMA spokesperson mentioned that certain alerts can be picked up automatically and broadcast on radio and TV stations. AT&T apologized to U-verse subscribers while the company stated that it is trying to figure out the cause of the incident as the warning should have affected only television service. A FEMA probe later revealed that a radio show not affiliated with the carrier accidentally sent the warning over the system.
Earlier in February 2013, hackers entered the Emergency Alert System, interrupted The Steve Wilkos Show in Montana and sent out an alert that the dead were rising from the graves. The attack brought out the vulnerabilities in the equipment that were used to transmit the alerts.
AT&T U-verse Emergency Alert Notification video:
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