Television viewers were startled by a fake Emergency Alert announcement Friday claiming to come from the White House, prompting fears of an imminent threat from Ebola or ISIS.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) later blamed it on a glitch in the system that was triggered by a radio broadcast that incidentally set off the alerts, as federal regulators continue to investigate.
The message flashing across televisions read: "This station has interrupted its regular programming at the request of the White House to participate in the Emergency Alert System."
A FEMA spokesperson called the Emergency Alert announcement "inappropriate."
“This morning, there was an inappropriate playing of the national emergency alert notification tones on a syndicated radio broadcast,” FEMA spokesperson Rafael Lemaitre told NBC News in a statement. “Certain alerts, like the one broadcast today, are designed to be automatically picked up and rebroadcasted by other radio and TV station. FEMA and the FCC are currently working with broadcasters to determine the full scope of the situation.”
Television viewers in Michigan, Georgia, Tennessee, Arkansas, Texas, North Carolina and possibly other states were caught off-guard by the fake announcement.