Arizonans flooded with 24 million political texts ahead of midterm election
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) --‘Tis the season for calls and text messages from political campaigns. “I’m mostly decided in my decisions, and they’re not really moving the needle much,” said Anthony Clark, a voter in Phoenix. “I don’t mind it,” added Hunter Hazelton. “If it’s a poll or a survey, I don’t mind taking the time to answer those questions.”
But a lot of Arizonans do mind the messages. On Your Side made a public records request and learned Arizonans have filed more than 100 complaints with the Federal Communications Commission about political calls and text messages this year. Names were redacted from the complaints, but one consumer from Gilbert complained about “calls every 20 minutes. Nonstop.” In a separate complaint, a consumer in Phoenix told the FCC, “I probably now have close to 1,000 numbers blocked on my phone and I still can’t stop the texts from coming.”
According to Robokiller, a text and spam blocking company, political text messages are increasing as midterm elections near. “In Arizona, for September alone, we estimate that Arizona citizens received 24 million political text messages and only about 100,000 political robocalls,” said Giulia Porter, the vice president of Robokiller. “So we’re really seeing quite a shift as we head into midterms towards political texts.”
They may be annoying, but they’re often allowed. According to the FCC, campaign calls and texts are exempt from the Do Not Call List requirements, but campaigns do have to follow specific rules. Political robocalls and robotexts to mobile phones require prior consent, while political calls to landlines are allowed without prior consent. According to the agency, campaigns may also send text messages to mobile phones without prior consent, as long as the sender manually dials the number and isn’t using auto-dialing technology.
“If it really is bothering you, which no one would blame you for, getting a call and text blocker app can help in the short term,” Porter said. “Because these messages aren’t necessarily illegal, the app won’t block it immediately outright, but you can tell that app to say, ‘I don’t want to receive calls like this in the future.’”
The FCC declined to comment on how it responds to consumer complaints about political text messages and calls when asked by On Your Side. However, consumers who believe they have received a political call or text that does not follow FCC guidelines can file a complaint here.
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