Americans received over 1 billion political text messages in September. Here’s how to stop them
Americans are used to seeing political campaign messages on television and on the internet during election season. And in 2020, those messages are even coming via text messages.
Cybersecurity expert and author Scott Schober says that politicians use texting for the same reason it drives many people crazy – it is effective.
“The open rate for email with spam and junk filters enabled is usually around 20% at most,” Schober says. “If you contrast that with SMS texting, you’re really targeting individuals and you have a higher than 90% open rate.”
Anti-spam company RoboKiller says Americans received 250 million political text messages for the primary elections in June. And it’s only gotten worse since then. In September, Americans received over 1 billion.
Some may have heard that spam texting was illegal, especially if one’s phone number is on the government’s do not call registry. But Schober says that the law only protects people from bulk messaging or robotexting. Political campaigns can exploit a loophole.
“It’s not automated. In other words, there's actually a person behind this SMS text that's being targeted to this individual. So, it's called peer to peer. So, when you've got a peer-to-peer communication, one individual to another individual, you're following the law,” he says.
So what can Americans do to make the political text messages go away? One way is to reply “STOP” or “UNSUBSCRIBE” in all capital letters.
Mobile communications expert and RoboKiller co-founder Ethan Garr warns that one should only reply to legitimate political ads and not to engage with scammers.
“If you're seeing things looking for your credit card information or other personally identifying data, it's possible that they are scams,” he says.