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Friday, November 27, 2009

SMS spam advertising - completely unacceptable

I have an almost irrational hatred of SMS-based advertising, which is shared by quite a number of other people I know. It's deeply intrusive, interruptive and time-consuming - and the idea that I should take even more of my time to send STOP messages to something unsolicited in the first place makes me shudder with disgust at the perpetrator.

Case in point: I got a random, unsolicited SMS from Virgin Atlantic today. I've been a member of their frequent flyer scheme for some time, and unfortunately they do not have a method to allow you to discriminate about how you receive information. The "communications preferences" page just says "Communications will be either by email, post, telephone or SMS. By opting in you will be agreeing to receive communications from us." No way to specify which you are willing to accept. It may well have changed since I first signed up, I'm normally pretty careful about this.

I don't mind emails as I don't have to take time to read them - I can see the headers. But on my personal phone, I absolutely, never, ever want spam. Yes I know I could get some fancy client for filtering SMS on an iPhone or whatever, but I do not care. SMS adverts = spam = unacceptable, as far as my personal life is concerned.

Too late for Virgin anyway - I won't be using the airline again, and I've told customer service to delete me from the frequent flyer database. No second chances.

Edit - I'm dismayed that the UK's Telephone Preference Service which acts as a central "do not call" database for telemarketing, does not extend to preventing SMS spam as well. There ought to be a centralised mechanism for opting out of all marketing-related text messages, enforced in law so that all bulk-SMS providers need to validate against it. Alternatively, I'm wondering if there are any applications for Android, iPhone or other platforms that use the same sort of Bayesian approach that PC email antispam software exploits.


Martijn Brouns said...

For every problem there is a solution: http://bit.ly/4YGPOH

Dean Bubley said...

Yes, I know that various vendors have anti-spam SMS products. Anam is another.

I'm not aware that any operators actually provide this as a service to individual end-users? And certainly, some were talking about using the platform as a *revenue* opportunity to get the advertisers to actually pay for the privilege of not being blocked.

Also: how do you deal with false-positives? Is there an SMS equivalent of an email Spam folder I can check to make 100% certain that I didn't miss anything legitimate that was wrongly categorised?