Crying Wolf

Posted on May 23, 2014
Tags: society

Emergency Alert settings on Android

After I bought my new Android phone last year, I found out (most unexpectedly) that it has the “feature” of displaying “Emergency Alerts”, and announcing them with a loud, prolonged, ungodly shrill sound that makes it sound like the world is about to end. That would be appropriate if the alert was, in fact, announcing the imminent end of the world. However, that is not in fact the sort of dire information that these alerts have been used for. Not so far, anyway.

After receiving not one but two Amber Alerts today, I decided something had to be done, so I went DuckDucking for an answer. Luckily, there’s an easy solution.

Interestingly, there was a category for “Emergency alert test messages”, and it was already unchecked. However, since I had previously received a test message anyway, under the “Severe Alert” category, I unchecked Severe Alert. And of course I unchecked Amber Alert. (While a child abduction is a tragic thing, there’s nothing I can do about it, especially when I’m asleep in my bed. It seems like Amber Alerts are only useful while driving… and is it really a good idea to encourage everyone on the freeway to look at their phones at once?)

I left “Extreme Alert” checked for now, because I haven’t received any Extreme Alerts yet. And if there was something like “An asteroid is going to impact your exact GPS coordinates in five minutes. Run!” then I actually would like to be notified. (And I wouldn’t even mind being notified about the spam emergencies, if only I could change the sound to something more innocuous, like a normal text message. But that doesn’t seem to be an option.)

I’m disappointed that it isn’t possible to uncheck the “Presidential Alert” category. But, since the President hasn’t sent me any spam texts yet, I guess it’s okay for now. If he ever does, I may have to look into recompiling the Messaging app to fix that problem. (Assuming that’s one of the parts of Android that’s still open source.)

Los Angeles, CA AMBER Alert: LIC/7CIN189 (CA) 2004 Orange Nissan Quest TEST From Monterey Park EOC.  THIS IS ONLY A TEST.