On The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, the comedian showed off a secret way for Apple users to hack their iPhones and opt out of the president alert — which was first tested by FEMA on Wednesday afternoon to the anger of many Americans.
Though the new emergency alert system is intended to warn the public about national crisis like missile launches, the White House received criticism over the fact that there’s no way to opt out of the alerts. That means President Trump or any future presidents will have direct access to the Americans through their cellphone, like it or not.
Luckily, Colbert has a solved the problem.
As the 54-year-old explained, “Just make sure your software is up to date, open up your control settings, go to control center, customize controls and then” hit your phone repeatedly with a hammer until it’s totally destroyed.
That wasn’t the only joke Colbert made about the system.
Earlier in the segment, he imagined what it would be like if Trump sent out an alert about a tsunami through the system.
“Trump is the last person I want to get a text from,” Colbert said, imagining what Trump’s text would say. “Huge wave! Very wet in terms of water. I’ll be there with paper towels soon.
“Apparently this test has been in the works for awhile,” Colbert continued. “It was delayed from Sept. 20 to avoid confusion during Hurricane Florence. That means that today — 2:18 p.m. on Oct. 3, 2018 — they thought things were just fine enough that they could test an emergency alert. So you know that gnawing sense of dread that something is terribly wrong at all times? That now passes for okay!”
Wednesday’s test read, “THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.”
According to The New York Times, users are not able to opt out of receiving the messages from President Trump due to a 2006 law requiring the Federal Communications Commission to work with the wireless industry to send out the messages.
FEMA’s Antwane Johnson told CBS News correspondent Anna Werner, “When those messages appear on mobile devices, people should take those extremely seriously. It has some direct impact on either life or safety.”
“If we have something that’s of national significance, we can rapidly notify the American public of that event,” Johnson added.
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Not everyone supports the alerts, however. Last week, three people from New York filed a lawsuit in federal court to block the system, arguing that it violates their free speech rights and constitutes an unconstitutional seizure of their electronic devices, Politico reported.
The lawsuit contends that the alerts will turn phones into “government loudspeakers” that would allow Trump or other presidents to issue propaganda.
The plaintiffs in the suit also accused Trump of disseminating “weaponized disinformation” on Twitter and said they “don’t wish to receive text messages, or messages of any kind, on any topic or subject, from Defendant Trump.”