An emergency message that appeared on televisions across the country Friday morning had a lot of people worried, and a bit annoyed when they learned it wasn't real.
The message, claiming to be an emergency alert issued by the president, told viewers, "We interrupt our programming at the request of the White House. This is the Emergency Alert System. All normal programming has been discontinued during this emergency."
The scrolling alert went on to instruct viewers,"Do not use your telephone. The telephone lines should be kept open for emergency use."
The alerts appear to have only gone out to AT&T U-verse customers, leading to concerns that AT&T's system may have been hacked.
AT&T spokesman Lance Skelly released this statement around 1 p.m. Friday:
The Federal Emergency Management Agency's investigation indicates that a nationally syndicated radio show not affiliated with AT&T accidentally sent a message over the National Emergency Alert System. This false message was carried on our network, as well as some other providers. We apologize to our customers.
Soon after we learned of the issue, we removed the message from our network.
National governmental emergency organizations and authorized TV and radio stations can distribute alert signals over the U-verse network and other providers' networks.