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Unannounced Verizon Emergency Alert Causes Panic In New Jersey


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An unannounced test of a soon to be mandatory emergency alert system caused panic in New Jersey today after Verizon customers received text messages warning them that a “civil emergency” was in progress and to “take shelter,” prompting alarmed citizens to flood 911 lines with anxious calls.

However, media reports concerning the alarm completely ignore the fact that Verizon was almost certainly running a test for the federal government’s soon to be mandatory PLAN alert program, which the company has signed up for.

“A mass text message warning New Jersey cell phone users of a “civil emergency” was sent out by Verizon Wireless earlier today,” reports the New Jersey Star-Ledger. Verizon Wireless later apologized to its customers for causing alarm.

The alert message included the text “U.S. Govern,” suggesting to customers the text had come from the federal government itself, which undoubtedly fueled the panic.

Residents in three different counties received the message, titled “Emergency alert seek shelter by 1:24 p.m,” which was not labeled as a test. Police departments and country authorities fielded four times the usual number of calls, many of them from distressed citizens who wanted to know whether a real emergency was in progress. “There is no reason to panic here,” said Monmouth County Sheriff Shaun Golden. “It is a false text done maliciously today at 12:27 p.m.”

The Department of Homeland Security was also forced to put out a tweet confirming that there was no emergency after concerned citizens also turned to Twitter for advice, saying they were, “scared and didn’t know how to react.”

The Martians aren't coming after all...
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