Spamming and scamming are serious problems in the world of instant messaging, particularly within the ranks of Google Messages. Both problems have one thing in common – they take advantage of users who don’t know what they’re doing.
As of now, Google has some serious spam problems to deal with – it’s been estimated that nearly one-third of all text messages exchanged via mobile phones today are spam. We had a chat with marketing expert, Faisal Abidi, to get a closer look at the issue.
A Short History Of Spam In Text Messaging
If there’s one constant in our technologically connected world, it’s that email and text messaging will always be a battleground for fraud. The Internet is littered with tales of scam artists using text messaging to defraud people, drive traffic to unsavory websites and get access to personal information through phishing scams. As pointed out by Faisal Abidi, text messaging has been around for more than 20 years, and spammers have been using it for nearly as long.
What are Rich Communication Services (RCS)
Rich Communication Services or RCS is a new messaging standard that is set to replace SMS and MMS. It provides some of SMS’ core features but also includes multimedia capabilities such as file transfer, video calling, and location sharing.
RCS Messaging has been adopted by Google and many other popular companies such as Samsung, Huawei, LG, etc. The technology was developed by Open Mobile Alliance (OMA), an organization that consists of over 700 mobile operators, vendors, and OS providers. In order for a device to support RCS, it must have software from one of these partners installed on it.
How Does RCS Differ From SMS?
Unlike SMS, you can use RCS to send images and videos. And while SMS is restricted to 160 characters per message, there are no such restrictions with RCS, which is why businesses love it. One of our favorite features of RCS is that it allows you to attach a link (URL) within your message, meaning that users can take action on your ad without leaving their messaging app.
The technology also makes it possible for businesses to target customers based on where they are located, what device they’re using, and even what time of day it is. For example, if you own a coffee shop in New York City, you could serve up an ad via RCS during lunchtime hours when customers might be looking for something nearby.
How Do Spammers Take Advantage Of This Feature?
With Rich Communication Services, businesses are able to programmatically add a link in their messages to drive customers directly to their website. However, spammers and scammers are easily able to do that as well.
Businesses have been using Google’s Rich Communication Services (RCS) to send SMS or text messages with links to consumers—as they do with traditional SMS. The problem is that anyone can set up an account on Google’s RCS system by simply signing up with an email address. After that, spammy businesses might flood you with promotional content!
How Can We Stop This Practice?
It’s not just businesses that are guilty of spamming; some individuals are committing fraud by injecting malware, viruses, and other types of malicious software into promotional texts. Although it is tough to stop spam outright, there are ways to mitigate risk.
For example, mobile device users can train their spam filters and disable notifications from unknown numbers. Also, as fraudulent activity continues, businesses should ensure they comply with applicable laws surrounding these messages and keep good records for posterity.
Lastly, if you do get an SMS that looks like a scam or phishing attempt, report it to your carrier and let them know about any instances where you may have been targeted or had a close call.
Google’s rollout of Rich Communication Services (RCS) ads has been marred by widespread fraud by scammers who use SMS-based malware and automated bots to send out bulk messages on behalf of small businesses. At least one big brand is taking note—and taking action against scammers and fraudsters, points out Faisal Abidi.
The only way to really beat spamming is through human intervention. Yes, ad platforms are working on developing more tools to curb the problem, but if we all make it a point to call out the spammers and scammers for what they are – and block them from our text spaces – their reach will be limited, and their impact will be reduced. In the end, that’s what matters most.