FACT CHECK: Did Apple Disable The Emergency Alert System On iPhones In The Latest iOS Update?

Elias Atienza | Senior Reporter

An image shared on Facebook claims Apple is disabling the emergency broadcast system on iPhones in its latest software update.

“You can maybe figure out why,” reads text accompanying the post.

Verdict: False

There is no evidence Apple disabled the emergency broadcast system in its latest update, though users may choose to disable emergency alerts on their personal devices.

Fact Check:

In recent days, some social media users have been sharing posts claiming that “Apple is shutting off the emergency broadcast system through an update.” The posts seem to be referring to the Emergency Alert System, which “allows the president to address the American people within 10 minutes during a national emergency” through “broadcasters, satellite digital audio services, direct broadcast satellite providers, cable television systems and wireless cable systems,” according to the Ready.gov website.

There is, however, no indication that the newest software update did such a thing. The description of Apple’s newest update, iOS 14.3, on Apple’s website does not mention that the emergency alerts were disabled. Such a move is also not mentioned on the webpage about the security content of iOS 14.3. (RELATED: Does Dialing ‘#21#’ Reveal If Your IPhone Is WireTapped?)

While Apple does allow users to disable government emergency alerts, this is not a new feature that came with iOS 14.3. A page on Apple’s support website published in August 2019 shows users how to disable government alerts, which are enabled by default. Check Your Fact confirmed on an iPhone that the option to turn off notifications for government alerts is available under the “notifications” section in the settings app.

The inaccurate claim appears to originate from a Parler post from pro-Trump lawyer Lin Wood, according to Snopes. Wood also claimed that there would be an “imminent blackout” and that President Donald Trump plans to communicate with Americans through the emergency broadcast system.

Twitter announced Jan. 8 that Trump was suspended permanently from their platform “due to the risk of further incitement of violence.” Parler, the platform from which Wood made the claim, was shut down by Amazon Web Services for not removing posts that incite violence, according to CNN.

Apple did not respond to Check Your Fact’s request for comment.

Elias Atienza

Senior Reporter
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