What to do about all those political text messages
- October 29, 2020
- Posted by: Kerry Tomlinson, Archer News
- Categories: Archer News, Cyber Crime, Cyber Crime, Mobile Devices, Posts with image
How do you feel about political text messages sent to your phone, sometimes by the dozen?
“My choice would be, ‘Loathe them with the fire of a thousand suns,’” responded Kwadwo Burgee on Twitter.
What can you do?
So Many Messages
Political groups are sending out billions of text messages this year, choosing text over calls, since fewer people answer their phones.
Our very informal twitter poll shows 60% hate them.
“It’s so annoying cause I think someone is actually texting me but it’s just the voting thing,” wrote Jacob on Twitter.
“I already voted and these texts make me want to un-vote just to spite them,” wrote Tuan.
How do they get your info?
In many cases, the groups get voter registration information from government agencies. That can include your name, phone number, address and more.
It is legal, according to the Federal Communications Commission. The FCC says political groups can send unsolicited text messages to people’s mobile phones as long as they don’t use robotexters for the job.
What Can You Do?
Send the word STOP in reply, the FCC says.
“I opt-out as fast as I can. The word #stop is my friend,” said Gert Zoutendijk on Twitter.
If the messages don’t stop, you can report them to the FCC here. In addition, you can report them by forwarding the texts to 7726 (or “SPAM”).
You can also block the individual sender. But the groups can use other senders to keep texting you, so blocking alone may not stop them.
There are some phone tricks you can try, too, like putting political and other unknown send messages into their own list on your phone for less clutter.
On an iPhone:
—Go to Settings
—-Then Filter Unknown Senders
On an Android:
—Go to settings
—-Then Spam Protection
A scammer could send you a message that looks like a political text, but with a malicious link.
People in Kentucky received scam text messages this fall that claimed they were not registered to vote and they needed to go to a fake state registration website, the Hancock Clarion reported in September. Scammers may be trying to steal your personal and financial information with those messages.
Smishing, or “SMS phishing”, is a frequent crime. Cybersecurity experts recommend you don’t click on links in messages from people you don’t know. And even if you do know the person, watch out for suspicious links.
Plus, political groups and other countries are sending out misinformation in texts designed to influence you and your vote.
In Oklahoma, voters received messages telling them that a polling place was relocated — not true — and gave a phone to what was apparently a male escort service, The Washington Post reported.
Thumbing Your, er, Nose
Some people respond to the political texters with images of, ahem, body parts. Others, with rude or angry texts.
But some playful voters take a creative approach, as seen in this exchange on Cheezburger. If it’s not real, it’s at least clever.
Sender: Hey (Redacted), this is Sarah, volunteering with NextGenFL reminding you how easy + awesome it is to vote early. You should have received your ballot in the mail. Please remember to mail your ballot so that it arrives by Nov 6–or deliver it in person by Nov 6.
Receiver: Sarah, we’ve been over this before. I have a girlfriend.
Sender: Make sure to remind her about early voting!!
Receiver: Ugh Ok, I just told her. She said she already mailed in her ballot. But now she’s mad at me cause you keep texting me.
Sender: lolololol, tell her I mean no harm, just trying to help! my only interest is in democracy. and you sent your ballot in too, right?
Receiver: Sarah, she said I have to sleep on the couch now. Our couch is so uncomfortable.
Sender: But I think you will still sleep soundly regardless knowing you have done your civic duty!
Receiver: Dang Sarah, you’ve got a good point there. I’ll mail in my ballot now.
Main image: Fake political scam text. Image: Archer News