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RevMsg vs Ben & Jerry’s – The Full Scoop!

This is a tale of two progressive organizations that had a disagreement, but all ended well as cooler heads prevailed!

It started a long time ago in a Twitter universe far, far away…Ben & Jerry’s promotional truck tweeted they were on their way to visit Washington D.C. to deliver free ice cream to people who tweeted at them!

Despite our friendly requests, Ben & Jerry’s passed us by in favor of delivering free ice cream to the likes of Daniel Snyder and his cohorts outside the District. It was the distinct pain of betrayal, and possibly low blood sugar, which led us to produce and tweet our attack ad to the creators of the original attack ad. (Reference: Ben & Jerry’s battled Pillsbury over distribution rights and created “What’s the Doughboy Afraid Of?” campaign.)

Realizing the error of their ways, Ben & Jerry’s was quick to reconcile, delivering two days later. Little did we know, the incident would not go unnoticed by the local press.

The political world also made note of the spat. Even USA Today got in on the fun.

Word traveled quickly and soon the headquarters in Vermont knew the power of rapid response creativity and mixing social media with online videos!

The tale was told to the good people of Burlington and throughout the Green Mountain state.

Sometimes it takes a little doing to get your hands on some tasty frozen refreshment. The same goes for peace. While the ice cream was sweet, two sides coming together to show DC how to lift a spoon, a cup or a cone to help reconcile differences is even sweeter! To show our gratitude for Ben & Jerry’s coming to the table to work out our differences, we released this positive ad.

Social Media Becomes More Shareable

Soon after Google+ was released back in the fall of 2011, Facebook quickly realized that it needed to evolve in order to keep pace with other increasingly visual social networking platforms. To keep up, Facebook developed and rolled-out Timeline to replace profiles, while making sure images and videos became more prominent in a user’s news feed.

Now Facebook has a new trend to keep up with as more of Facebook’s user base is shifting to mobile. But be assured, Facebook has a response to this too. Facebook launched a new mobile site today, as well as iOS and Android app redesigns, which make images three times larger on your screen! With the rise of social networks, such as Pinterest, Tumblr, and Instagram, social media is becoming more visual. And it’s your time to take advantage of this.

Now is the time to use more compelling images to motivate and engage your supporters and members on social networks. With Facebook’s new mobile experience (which will hopefully load faster as more phones utilize 4G), people will be extending their browsing time on their cell phone and your message will catch their eye with captivating images and videos as it now takes up their full screen.

Check out before and after pictures of Facebook’s new mobile design here.

The Fight Continues…

Our team here at Revolution Messaging is continuing our fight to end political text message spam and people are paying attention. The Associated Press put out an article by Beth Fouhy helping spread our message to the Federal Communications Commission – they must end this practice now before it becomes even more costly for voters. We are asking everyone to visit to sign our petition and end political text spam today.

But that’s not all we have going on here – our tasty friend Sammy has something to say as well: No matter how tasty, a bribe is still a bribe. Atlantic writer Nancy Scola wrote an article on our talking sandwich video questioning presidential nominee Mitt Romney and Representative Paul Ryan’s motives for handing out free sandwiches during the Wisconsin GOP primary.

What will we come out with next? You’ll just have to wait and see.

Text Spam Comes in All Forms

As citizens are increasingly learning, text message spam comes in all forms and is directed at many targets, from voters to buyers. Political campaigns recently were caught spamming voters and grabbed the attention of the national press. But, how about the more traditional targeting of consumers?

In a period of economic recession, many shoppers are looking for bargains. A new text fraud by Walmart impostors are apparently looking to bank off of such consumers, offering fake $1,000 Walmart gift cards. The text, informing recipients of their supposed gift card, is embedded with a link to a website prompting the entry of personal information.

Such a message is called smishing, similar to phishing, only geared to texts, or SMS,” The Business Journal states.

These tactics attempt to trick consumers into thinking they are submitting their information to a reputable source. Scam Book claims the Walmart Text Spam Group is “false advertising.”

The Walmart scam text has spread rapidly, nationwide. WebProNews writes, “The BBB is fielding complaints all across the U.S. concerning the texts.”

Even one of our own employees received a text message from the Walmart spammers this morning:


Walmart has released a statement, explaining that the texts are not from them. Nonetheless, we all need to be weary of text fraud. The Better Business Bureau says, “smartphones are very convenient but consumers should be careful about using them – When you use a device for everything from banking to personal photo albums, the last thing you want is someone gaining access to the phone.”

Worst of all, unsolicited text message spam is charging citizens in times of economic adversity, the opposite of a promise of $1,000. It will be important to sustain pressure on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to properly regulate the growing problem. Revolution Messaging is working towards this goal – check out for more information.


In Case You Missed It…

Have you joined the Revolution in calling out to the Federal Communications Commission to stop political text spam and end the latest type of voter suppression? In case you missed it, this week three different news outlets covered our petition asking the FCC to clarify its regulations under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, which prohibits groups from sending text messages to your cell phone without an opt-in or opt-out feature. This regulation applies to all SMS campaigns and the FCC must make this clear and enforce it. Learn more about our efforts and how you can help avoid a costly election for voters with these three great sources:

Vote 4 Me!!: The political consultants who want to send you unsolicited text messages, and the man who is fighting to stop them. By Sasha Issenberg

Slate tells the story of the fight to end political text spam from the beginning when Revolution Messaging founder Scott Goodstein investigated a spam claim from 2009 to today and the current petition filed with the FCC.

Political junk mail you pay for: It’s not exactly free speech when the recipients have to pay for unwanted political text messages, a relatively new phenomenon that regulators should squash now. wrote an editorial comparing unsolicited text messages, which costs voters money each time they are sent an unwanted text, to other forms of negative campaign ads, which voters aren’t charged for. The editorial understands the need for immediate action to end this “relatively new phenomenon that regulators should squash before it spreads.”

School for scandal National News in Canada interviewed Revolution Messaging Founder Scott Goodstein and Founder of Shaun Dakin on the dangers of using technology for voter suppression activities.

Do you prefer text messages? 31% of Americans do.

Seventy-three percent of Americans are texting and of that group almost one-third prefer to be contacted via text.

Today, the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project released their report: How Americans Use Text Messaging. This survey shows that 83% of Americans own cell phones and of that number, a majority (73%) use texting.

Text message users exchange twice as many texts as they did in 2009, sending out 41.5 messages per day rather than only 21.9 in 2009. Additionally, almost one-third (31%) of texting Americans prefer texts rather than calls.

Avid texters are even more likely to prefer texting to talking. Over half (55%) of those who send or receive over 50 messages a day say they would prefer a text message.

Why texting?

Aaron Smith, a senior research specialist with Pew’s Internet & American Life Project, believes that texting continues to be popular because “anyone with a phone can text anyone else without worrying whether or not the person they are trying to reach is on the same service–as does the fact that you can text from pretty much any type of cellphone” (Source: Media Post).

Which do you prefer?


The Newest Messaging System in Town

A new messaging system is in town – one more system that the media is saying will threaten SMS messaging: Facebook Messenger. Surprised that Facebook is behind this new app? They seem to be rolling out something new every week and this week it happens to be a new way for people to text each other without paying carriers’ SMS fees.

In a past post, we wrote about the potential for Apple’s messaging system, iMessage (released in June 2011), to influence carriers to alleviate some of the costly text messaging fees on its users in order to keep people from abandoning SMS and fully adopting a free approach. Now, these messaging systems are not anywhere close to making SMS obsolete, but could Facebook Messenger be another push in the right, and cheaper, direction?

Facebook Messenger may be even more appealing to the masses since it can be linked to their Facebook account – an account we all know is used multiple times a day by most people. This part has seemed to stir up some controversy regarding the privacy of your phone’s address book. However, with this new app, the syncing capabilities will be appreciated: the text messages sent will automatically be stored in the messaging center of their Facebook account for easy access.

And what happens if the user you try to contact through Facebook Messenger isn’t signed in? It just shows up on their phone as an SMS text – a very mobile centric system. No matter whether you send a text through the app or send a message through Facebook or an IM through Facebook’s instant messaging system, all the messages will end up in one thread keeping users organized and having their past conversations in one easy location.

Is this enough to ask our carriers to start caring about losing potential users to new messaging apps that may turn people away from purchasing SMS packages for their cell phones? Verizon, why will people want to pay you per incoming and outgoing texts if they can send one for free with Facebook Messenger? AT&T, why will your customers continue to buy into expensive unlimited SMS packages when they have free, unlimited messages with iMessages? This is another group stepping into the world of messaging systems and, hopefully, this group adds more competition to the field of SMS, creating an urgent environment for the carriers to generate a more just system for the users.

NLRB Jeopardizing Workers’ Protected Speech

Workers beware – your free speech may be in danger.  Have you ever posted a comment on Facebook about your job or maybe a coworker? Did you ever need to vent after a bad week at the office? Well, be careful, you might not be covered by protected speech anymore.

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) looks like it’s changing its mind on whether or not comments made by employees on social media sites are protected under federal labor law or not. At first, the NLRB took the right path and issued complaints against employers who prohibited or disciplined employees who expressed themselves on Facebook and commented on some negative aspects of work. But in a few recent cases, it looks like the NLRB isn’t coming to the rescue anymore – they are leaving protected speech, one of our most valued rights, in the dust.

According to Mondaq, the NLRB seems to be leaving employees out to dry with a few recent cases. They denied employees’ requests to issue a complaint against employers, using the excuse that the comments made in all three cases on Facebook were “personal gripes” and not “protected concerted activity,” which is found under the protection of the National Labor Relations Act.

Remember when you had to worry about your Facebook pages because future employers would look at your pictures and postings before they hired you? Well, the worrying isn’t over when you do get the job. With the NLRB’s latest denials to defend employees’ protected speech on social media sites, every word you say online about a bad day or an unfair employee could be used against you.

Complaining online about being stuck at a job where you haven’t gotten a raise in five years? The NLRB won’t consider that protected concerted activity and you may find yourself fired for words written online. Ever have a bad day and write a complaint on Facebook about your manager? Again, you can find yourself immediately fired with no NLRB to protect your right to free speech.

This is just one more step in the wrong direction for workers, one more right that is being taken away. What’s next?


The three most recent cases from Masdaq:

Here is a quick summary of the three recent cases that the NLRB’s Division of Advice declined to issue complaints involving employer discipline of employees for their social networking activity, even where their online comments were job-related.

  • In JT’s Porch Saloon & Eatery, Ltd., an employee’s online conversation with a relative, stating that he had gone five years without a raise and commenting negatively about his employer’s customers, was not protected concerted activity.  The NLRB held that the online complaints were never discussed with other employees nor did other employees respond to the posting.
  • In Martin House, an employee commented during an online conversation on Facebook with non-employees about her work for a mental health service provider, stating that it was “spooky” working at night in a “mental institution.”  The NLRB found no basis to issue a complaint, finding that the online postings did not mention any terms or conditions of employment, were not discussed with other employees, and received no comments or responses from other employees.
  • In Wal-Mart, a customer service representative posted disparaging comments about his manager and Wal-Mart on his Facebook page.  Although two co-workers responded to his posting, the NLRB concluded that the comments merely expressed the employees’ “individual gripes” and did not constitute an effort to induce Wal-Mart employees to engage in group action.[1]

[1] Dunn, Jennifer and Hass, Doug. United States: NLRB Signals Retreat On Cases Involving Employee Comments. 05 Aug 2011


The Drawbacks of Text-to-Donate

California Governor Jerry Brown declared his support for allowing campaigns in California to start accepting donations via text message. On the surface this seems like a no-brainer as online donations have brought millions, if not billions, of dollars into campaigns through large and small donations. But text-to-donate has way too many drawbacks before it becomes a political reality.

Drawback one: Reporting. Currently, it’s illegal for a campaign to accept money via text message. Mobile carriers are not setup to track compliance data. So is the donor actually eligible to give? Are they an American over the age of majority? Have they exceeded campaign donation limits? Are they an employee of the Government? None of this information is currently available on a national level and probably won’t be for California elections.

Drawback two: Waiting. Mobile donations can take 90 days to process. Except in the case of the Haiti earthquake, mobile carriers wait until customers pay their bills before they start writing checks to the beneficiary. In the case of many special elections, runoffs or general elections, the 90-day period before a campaign gets its check from the mobile carrier may be post-Election Day.

Drawback three: Donation size. Mobile carriers aren’t credit card companies. They are in the business of taking money, not handing it out. Many carriers won’t start cutting checks until the amount donated has reached a certain threshold. For smaller or less popular campaigns this means the money could never come. Donors will be charged and the donations will be collected, but the campaign won’t see the money.

Drawback four: Fees. Mobile phone companies allow 501(c)(3) non-profits the ability to collect donations via text for a small charge or sometimes for free. But campaigns may not fit into that category. At this point, there isn’t a category for political campaigns and mobile giving fees are high, really high – 20 to 50 percent high. So now, a $5 donation is really worth $2.50. It’s up to the carriers to waive or lower this fee. Does Verizon really want to lower the fees for every person running for office in the entire state of California? Or for all political campaigns if this law can work on a federal level one day? Until then, it’s very cost prohibitive.

Drawback five: Digital Divide. Users with prepaid phones cannot participate nor can Cricket mobile customers, as Cricket doesn’t allow subscribers access to the shortcodes necessary to donate.

While mobile giving is certainly a great way to allow instant and small donations, it’s not feasible right now. The carriers need to change the way they operate, and states and the federal government need to adjust required disclosures for mobile giving. Once that happens, then we can begin the discussion on using mobile giving for campaigns. But simply allowing mobile donations in California is not the way to do it. If Governor Brown wants to bring something into the online age, he should start with online voter registration.

Evolution of the Smartphone

In 1993 IBM launched Simon, the first phone containing smartphone capabilities. It took another year to be put out on the market by BellSouth, and then it was only sold in 15 US states for $899.

Why does this matter? Because less than 20 years later, 35% of all American adults with cellphones own a smartphone. This statistic comes from the Pew Internet Project, which conducted the “first standalone measure of smartphone ownership” in May. We now have increasing ability to be in people’s pockets through mobile advertising, mobile video and mobile apps on a daily basis.

Not only do people own smartphones with more frequency, but minorities’ and the younger generation in lower income households’ use of this tool is rising as well. Almost half (44%) of African Americans and Latinos use smartphones, as well as 39% of 18-29 year olds earning $30,000 or less.

Some of these lower income households can’t afford the Internet in their homes, but with smartphones they can access the web whenever they want – 25% of smartphone users do this, saying they mostly access the Internet from their phone, rather than a computer. Out of that 25%, about one-third of them are from these homes where they can’t afford the Internet, but can use their smartphones to access a world that was once limited to them.

When looking at household income as a whole, without breaking it down into age groups, the upper and middle class are more likely to own smartphones than low-income earners. Those earning $150,000 and more are three and a half times as likely as those earning $10,000 or less. This isn’t surprising or shocking, but it’s still encouraging to see the younger generation being part of the uptick in smartphone ownership regardless of income. These statistics show a brighter future for closing the digital divide.

This study also looked at the type of smartphone platforms most common and found that Android is at the top of this list, followed by iPhone and Blackberry devices. The communities that tend to use Android phones are younger adults and African Americans, while the latter two devices are found among college graduates and the wealthier class.

When looking at the word cloud provided by the study, some of the most mentions from smartphone owners are “great,” “satisfied,” “convenient,” “necessary,” and “useful.” All positive, all pointing towards how the smartphone has become a crucial part of life – something we all don’t want to (or can’t?) leave the house without.