Claims of UK’s scheduled emergency text service indicating ‘start of World War Three’ are false

By: Rajini KG
April 19 2023

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Claims of UK’s scheduled emergency text service indicating ‘start of World War Three’ are false


The Verdict False

The April 23 test will not announce World War III, it is only a trial run of the service to warn people of any life-threatening situation in future.

Claim ID da6e091e


The UK government had recently announced that on April 23, 2023, at 3 p.m., it will test an emergency alerts system nationwide. The government has said this test is for alerts that will notify people of any situations that pose a risk to their lives, such as severe flooding, wildfires, or extreme weather. It functions with the aid of mobile broadcasting technologies and offers detailed directions on how to react. 

Following this announcement, many false and conspiracy narratives about this test began circulating on social media. A Facebook user shared a TikTok video which shows a Sky News broadcast about the alert, with the following text overlaid on it: "April 23, 3pm Nothing to worry about?? For weather warning apparently... WW3 incoming (sic)??" In the video, Sky News host Kay Burley can be heard saying, "Now, when you hear a sound like this in two weeks' time, don't panic. 3 pm. Sunday, 23 of April, millions of phones across the UK will emit that sound and vibrate even if the device is on silent (sic)." The video also shows a demo of how the text would appear along with the sound. Some people on social media have claimed that the emergency alert services are linked to “planned nuclear attacks” or the “nuclear world war”, and the government would tamper with people's phones to steal their data. Users have also claimed that the test will mark the ‘start of World War Three’. However, these claims made on social media are false and baseless.

In Fact

The UK government had announced on March 19 that it will run a nationwide exercise on April 23, 2023, and that people will receive a test message on their mobile phones. People’s phones will vibrate and play a notification alert for up to 10 seconds. It noted that the alerts would be sent by a government or emergency service, which would issue a warning, give details of the impacted area, and provide instructions on how best to respond.

The agenda of this test is to inform locals of severe flooding or wildfires, or other severe weather conditions that are encroaching on nearby settlements in the future. It will act like a quick notification system to inform people to move to safer areas, or take precautions as necessary. It also notes that other countries like the United States, Canada, the Netherlands, and Japan have already put similar programs into place and are highly acknowledged for saving lives, particularly during severe weather conditions. 

According to the UK governmen website, people only need to swipe away the notification or choose "OK" on their phone's home screen to close the alert. If someone wants to opt out of the emergency alert service, they can do that by following the instructions listed on the website. The conditions for how to handle the alerts during driving and domestic violence have also been listed on the government website. Sky News and BBC have also reported on the planned excerciser and its purpose.

There is no evidence that the testing of emergency alert service in the UK will be about World War III or a nuclear attack. There is no impending situation or event planned for April 23, nor will it mark the ‘start of World War Three’. The exercise on that day is simply a trial run to allow people to get accustomed to such an emergency text function and spread awareness in case there is a life-threatening event in the future. The claim made in the post is a conspiracy theory aimed at misleading the public about the functioning of the emergency alert service. 

Logically Facts has previously debunked a false narrative related to the UK's emergency alert service that people have to reply to the emergency alert text or their phone use will be restricted. Alexandra Newlands, a senior press officer at the UK Cabinet Office, had confirmed to Logically Facts that the rumors are false and no one can access or steal the personal data.

The Verdict

The text alert that people in the UK will receive on their phones is simply a trial run of an emergency text alert function aimed at public safety. Claims linking this test to any nuclear attack or World War Three are unfounded. Therefore, we mark this claim false.

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