I guess I am lucky…I have not received unwanted text messages from political campaigns this election cycle…but I also know not everyone has been that lucky. My significant other gets them every now and then…and then a reader reached out and told me about their experience with it.
Here is what I have been told is coming from the Brian Frosh campaign:
Hi (insert name here), it’s Bruce, a volunteer for Brian Frosh for Attorney General! Early voting runs through Nov 1, daily 10am-8pm. Brian will stand up for our environment, protect consumers, and work to keep our communities safe. Will you be an early voter for Brian?
This person then told me: “I asked how he got my number and this was the response from the Frosh campaign”:
We start with a list of voters from the public voter file, and then match that against publicly available cell phones from third-party lists. It’s like making calls or knocking on doors, but by text. Are there any questions I can answer about Brian or the election?
This person also told me this similar message was sent to their significant other:
Hi (insert name here), it’s Mara, a volunteer for Brian Frosh for Attorney General! Early voting runs through Nov 1, daily 10am-8pm. Brian will stand up for our environment, protect consumers, and work to keep our communities safe. Will you be an early voter for Brian?
Now look…I know campaigns sometimes have a system that you can subscribe to in order to receive campaign related text messages…but this is clearly not the case here…this is a campaign that has admitted to using 3rd party lists in order to spam people with text messages.
Is this OK with you? It really isn’t with me…but that is just me. Maybe some folks are OK with being spammed with political stuff on their phone…but I believe that unsolicited political stuff is just not cool. There is a Do Not Call List…do we really have to create a Do Not Text List as well in order to stop this stuff from happening in election years? Shouldn’t candidates be better than this when running for office?
Now I put out a teaser to this article on the Facebook page for the blog and Ward Marrow made the following public comment:
In all likelihood the “candidate” didn’t. Your husband gave his cell number to some commercial vendor and they sold their list. This is legal and happens all the time.
Political messaging firms purchase lists of voters and match emails/phone numbers/ addresses etc…
As long as a real person sends the text, it’s like a phone bank, it’s not a Robocall and it’s not can spam. It’s not illegal, it’s not commercial even, so one is selling anything. Report it to whomever you wish, but it’s not illegal. You can simply text back to be removed, and you likely will be for that campaign only. Don’t yell at the candidate, they don’t control the list and they can’t add or remove the names, you have to text back to the person who actually sent it to you.
They aren’t cheap to do, but much cheaper than a mailing. Also, no one reads email much anymore 5% open rate, no one answers their phone, they don’t come to the door, but 90% of texts get read. So this is how campaigns will be run. If you don’t like it, again delete them or ask to be removed. It’s the new email. Candidates don’t want to do it, but when no one goes to candidate debates, how else do you get name recognition? Illegal road signs?
I responded with the following to that comment:
While I get what you are saying…the candidate is responsible for this happening on his behalf…and one additional note…not all cell plans are the same…and some text messages cost the receiver money (as little as it may be…still a financial cost to the receiver based on their plan)…so it is ok for that to happen when they never asked for it? I say no…but others can disagree with me…I also value feedback so I can learn more…
More comments have been made…click the link above to read through them on Facebook.
I attempted to reach out to the Frosh campaign (via Facebook, Twitter and email) to get a comment for this article…I have not received anything back from them (and I really don’t expect to at this point) so I went ahead with the article without it. If I do get a response from the campaign…I will update the article.
I am curious what you think…let me know in the comments.