Conspiracy theories flooded social media as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) tested its Emergency Alert System and Wireless Emergency Alerts on October 4. During the test, text messages were sent to cell phones and across TV and radio “to ensure that the systems continue to be effective means of warning the public about emergencies, particularly those on the national level,” said FEMA.
Social media users, skeptical of the government, posted a series of suggestions as to the true motives of the tests. One theory suggested that a signal would be sent to cell phones to activate nanoparticles already introduced to people’s bodies, or send energy waves that could be harmful to health. Some suggested that Graphene oxide, injected into Americans with their coronavirus vaccinations, would be activated.
More outlandish conspiracies warned that the alarm would trigger vaccinated people and turn them into zombies. Others connected the warning sirens to 5G technology, that could “activate the Marburg virus in people who have been vaccinated,” and turn them into automatons.
When such predictions did not translate into reality, one social media user asked, “So what’s the next great conspiracy we have to look forward to now that the great zombie apocalypse was a dud?”
Controversy also surrounded previous testing in 2018 when some people worried that President Trump would use the opportunity to deliver political messaging. Three people filed lawsuits against the alert, saying it violated their Constitutional rights, but US District Judge Katherine Polk Failla rejected any efforts to block the exercise from going ahead. She said plaintiffs feared President Trump would use the system to his political advantage and turn it into another Twitter feed. The Judge pointed out to complainants, however, that they only had to switch off their phones to be exempt from the process.
Nevertheless, Polk Failla did ask a government lawyer to ensure there is no capacity for the alert system to be used for political purposes in the future.