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Summer’s Barbeque and Political Season Is Here: Time to Hold the Spam

By Scott Goodstein, Huffington Post
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/scott-goodstein/summers-barbeque-political-spam_b_5417672.html

As you got out the charcoal for the barbecue last weekend while gathering with friends and family, you may have felt your phone buzzing in your pocket. Maybe it was a pal looking for last minute directions — or maybe it was an anonymous text warning you that Candidate X “supports homosexuality and its radical social agenda” or “denies protection to babies who survive abortions.” Serious buzzkill delivered to you in the form of unwanted, anonymous and misleading junk messages in the middle of your picnic. But you’ll feel even worse when you realize there is no way to unsubscribe from these misleading political texts and you are slapped with the bill for the messages as well. It happened to untold numbers of Americans during the 2012 election cycle and it could happen to you this summer.

It used to be said that Labor Day marked the unofficial start of campaign season, but over the years it has inched up and up, and now you can expect to see the ad wars all summer long. Unsolicited political text messages are illegal. But that hasn’t stopped right wing spammers from unleashing hateful homophobic, racist and other uninvited messages on voters across the country the last few election cycles. It happened in 2012 and it happened in 2010 when families from Colorado to Virginia and North Carolina to Minnesota all were hit with political text spam. Unless the FCC takes a stand, political text spammers will torment even more Americans as the 2014 elections heat up.

This crime hits consumers in their wallets, leaving them on the hook for any text charges with their cell phone carriers. Worse yet, there is no way for consumers to opt-out or even see who is responsible for sending the offending messages. And in some of the most egregious cases, the texts are actually used to confuse voters by telling them to show up to the polls on the wrong day.

The advent of text messaging has brought many benefits. It helps connect us with those we care about near and far — and has played a critical organizing role for citizens around the world working to spread freedom and democracy. Many political campaigns and social justice advocates are using texting for good: inviting interested members of the community to sign up and enjoy updates and opportunities to take action.

In fact, text messaging is one of the most effective campaign tools that exists — with text recipients 75 times more likely to read a message and take action compared to email recipients. However along with advances in technology come abuses. There is a reason email action rates have become so dismal – our inboxes are cluttered with too many messages. Imagine the same fate happening to your cell phone. Not a pretty picture.

In January 2012, my organization, Revolution Messaging, filed a petition with the FCC to urge them to put an end to political text spam once and for all. For nearly two years, former FCC Chair Julius Genachowski failed to stand up for consumers and rule on the petition to stop this spam. But there is a new chairman in place now and we are urging Chairman Tom Wheeler to take action before the 2014 election cycle gears up.

Under Chairman Wheeler, the FCC just announced they are slapping a conservative group with a $2.9 million fine for placing illegal robocalls (automated recorded calls) to Americans’ cell phones. Hitting these spammers with a multi-million dollar fine is an important first step to defending consumers, but the FCC must do more. Not a single political text message spammer has been fined by the FCC to date.

Political text message spam is only going to grow unless the FCC takes a hard line against spammers — punishing them to the full extent of the law. We can stop the bad guys from turning our cell phones into another spam vehicle. We urge Americans to join us in this fight by visiting pocketspammers.com to learn more and to submit comments to the FCC. Please join us in telling the FCC to stand up for consumers and stop the spammers now before another costly election season gets underway.


Revolution Messaging Applauds FCC for First Step Cracking Down on Cell Phone Spammers

Revolution Messaging Applauds FCC for First Step Cracking Down on Cell Phone Spammers

Firm Calls on New FCC Chairman to Put an End to Political Text Message Spam

Washington, DC — Revolution Messaging, the political industry leader in calling for a crackdown on text and mobile spammers, applauded the FCC for hitting GOP spammers with a $2.9 million fine this week. The watchdog firm called on the new FCC chairman to clarify and strictly enforce anti-spam laws to protect American consumers from political text message spam once and for all.

“Slapping these bad actors with a multi-million dollar fine is an important first step, but we are calling on the new leadership at the FCC to do more,” said Scott Goodstein, founder of Revolution Messaging, a full service digital firm. “Political text message spam is only going to grow unless the FCC takes a hard line against spammers – punishing them to the full extent of the law.”

“We are calling on Chairman Tom Wheeler to swiftly rule on our petition to stop spammers before American consumers are forced to pay the price of costly text message spam in another election season this fall.”

For nearly two years former FCC Chair Julius Genachowski failed to stand up for consumers and rule on the petition to stop political text message spam. Chairman Wheeler has the opportunity to finally take action before the 2014 election cycle gears up.

Political text message spam is problematic for consumers who must pay their cell phone carriers for these unwanted messages. Worse yet, there is no way for consumers to opt-out or even see who is responsible for sending the offending messages.

Members of the public are encouraged to visit pocketspammers.com to learn more and to submit comments to the FCC calling on Chairman Wheeler to take action before another election season gets underway.

Background

Revolution Messaging has been leading the fight against political mobile phone spam since November 2010 when an onslaught of illegal text message spam was used against Democratic candidates. The organization documented the practice and developed a calling tool for Americans to call their attorney general’s office to report messages.

The illegal practice resurfaced in October 2011 when Revolution Messaging helped the Virginia Democratic Party in working to stop unwanted text message spam used as a new type of voter suppression tactic in Virginia State Senate races.

This led Revolution Messaging to file a petition with the FCC on January 19th, 2012. Over two years later, the FCC has failed to rule, leaving consumers vulnerable to this continued abuse.

Revolution Messaging predicts a costly 2014 election for voters if the FCC doesn’t stand up now and put an end to these unsolicited messages.

Revolution Messaging is a leader in cutting-edge progressive strategies for a mobile world, offering fundraising, creative, video, mobile, advertising and technology services. Led by former staff and campaign advisors to President Obama, Revolution Messaging provides clients with the kind of technology, creativity and analytics that helped make his campaigns a success.

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Revolution Messaging Launches Revere: A New Revolution in Rapid Response

Revolution Messaging Launches Revere: A New Revolution in Rapid Response
Obama Veterans Bring the Next Generation of Technology & Analytics to 2014 Campaigns

Washington, D.C. — On Thursday, April 24, 2014, Revolution Messaging launched Revere: a new revolution in rapid response. Developed by former advisors to President Obama and the team behind Webby-nominated Drunk Dial Congress,Revere brings the winning technology and data strategies from the Obama campaign to issue and political campaigns up and down the ballot.

“As it becomes harder and harder to reach people in their congested digital life, Revere helps campaigns break through the clutter and better engage supporters,” said Scott Goodstein, founder of Revolution Messaging and former external online director for the Obama campaign.

Revere includes the following services – all in one easy to use platform:
– online and mobile ads
– texting
– calling: integrated voice, click to call
– news clipping rapid response tool
– customized link shortener with tracking

No other vendors in this space offer all of these services in a single platform –plus the data from all of these services is integrated to drive a more powerful campaign and rapid response operation. Select services start as low as $99/ month.

Revere gives campaigns the expertise they need to precisely target political audiences in ways never before possible. With more voter data than ever before, Revere can reach the right people, at the right place and the right time. It allows microtargeting of very specific demographics and geographies – down to commuters on a specific bus route playing games on mobile phones.

“Whether it’s online and mobile ads, texting, calling or rapid response, many political campaigns have been held back by lack of expertise in cutting edge technology and analytics — or were priced out of the market,” added Goodstein. “Revere solves this problem by bringing the expertise campaigns need at the price they can afford in one easy to use platform.”

Members of the media are invited to join campaigners at the launch event tonight to experience the revolution. Check out event details and preview video atRevereHQ.com. 

Background on Revere: 

Revere Exchange – Advertising

Americans are spending more screen time with their smartphones, tablets and laptops than their TVs, but political advertisers are behind the curve. Revere Exchange gives campaigns the expertise they need to precisely target political audiences in ways never before possible. Reach the right people, at the right place and the right time  – at the price your campaign can afford.

  • Target custom audiences with advertising using voter file and consumer data
  • Revere Exchange is the only platform that works with all progressive data vendors to provide you with a reach no other vendor can provide. Reach over 162 million registered voters
  • The first self-serve platform to target political audiences using cookie, IP and mobile targeting
  • Match your own data and create audiences in Revere Exchange
  • Reach your audience when you want to, on any digital device they use, then retarget them to generate more actions
  • Revolution Messaging monitors your buys to ensure maximum deliverability and to safeguard against fraud
  • Revolution Messaging leads the industry in fighting spam and fraud in political advertising and are the only political technology company that is a member of the IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau)

Revere Calling – Interactive Voice

Meticulous targeting and analytics aren’t just for ads. Operating an effective calling campaign requires the ease and accountability of an interactive voice system that targets the right callers and connects them with their appropriate official. Shutting down the switchboard is okay, but campaigns need to know their message is reaching the right officials at the right time.

  • Our easy-to-use calling platform enables you to set up toll-free or local telephone numbers for driving supporters to members of Congress or any of the 50 State Legislatures
  • Revere Calling is an all purpose tool for using phone calls to generate actions
  • Our technology ensures your supporters are directed to their legislator, not the switchboard
  • Accurately measure the effectiveness of your outreach and allows you to learn what is driving the most calls to your targets
  • We provide easy to set up toll-free numbers or click-to-call forms for your website
  • Screen Actor Guild voice recordings for exact pronunciation of every legislator

Revere Mobile – Two-Way SMS

When is the last time you saw a 95% open rate on an action email? Smart texting helps your message get in front of your target audience’s eyes faster and more effectively than email.

  • Reach your supporters directly on their cell phone with an action rate five times higher than email
  • Combine SMS with social channels to get your message heard
  • Incorporate data from other Revere Platforms and 3rd Party Integrations to send the right message at the right time
  • The most flexible data structure combined with the fastest messaging of any SMS platform makes for the ultimate in rapid response. Send messages more than ten times faster than other text message platforms.

Revere Social – Push Clips Further

Today’s campaigns need to be quick and nimble to squash attacks and share important developments. There is a faster, easier, cheaper way to spread the word and incite action.

  • A faster, easier and cheaper way to compile news clips for your campaign or organization’s rapid response efforts
  • Send news clips over email and text message
  • Give supporters a way to take action and share positive news through social media, while fighting against mis-truths or inaccurate reporting
  • Data on the actions your supporters take can be used for optimization of messaging

Revere Direction  - Better Custom Links

Know who is sharing your news effectively and use that data to drive a more powerful campaign — all while branding and shortening your links.

  • Set up the domain of your choice as a URL shortener
  • Track platform & browser statistics across the Revere Suite
  • Tag traffic through all shortened URLs or through specific shortened URLs for retargeted advertising
  • Track referrers, platforms, browsers and individuals

Revere Sync – Data Hub

Drive a more powerful campaign with integrated analytics — from phone to text to links to ads.

  • Sync is the data hub for rapid response
  • Sync connects all actions taken in Revere Suite with websites and apps built by Revolution Messaging
  • Integrates with NGP VAN, BSD, Salsa and many others to ensure your data is available on the platforms you need for digital success
  • Implementation Open Supporter Data Interface coming soon
  • Couple this with integrations to the leading, progressive CRM and email platforms and your campaign or organization has the edge necessary for victory

What Does the WhatsApp Purchase Mean for Organizers?

Facebook made news yesterday in a move to buy the instant messaging service WhatsApp for $19 billion in cash, stock and restricted shares. In the past five years, WhatsApp has become a stunningly popular app letting users send text, pictures, voice recordings and video messages to fellow users, while also providing the ability to set up status updates and organize contacts. Because WhatsApp works through mobile broadband, users do not pay the SMS texting fees cell phone carriers often have in their phone contracts. WhatsApp’s Co-Founder Jan Koum has kept a note on his desk reading, “No Ads! No Games! No Gimmicks!” – a testament to how simple WhatsApp has been so far for its users.

WhatsApp has nearly 450 million active users worldwide and most of them are outside the United States. However, Facebook most likely values WhatsApp’s huge popularity among younger users who are increasingly using group texting applications to communicate with friends at a rapid pace, and we imagine it values the data acquired as part of the purchase. While Facebook is already able to capitalize on the wealth of information users post about themselves on their profiles and timelines, messaging applications like WhatsApp can provide even greater access to user information through the conversations they have on the platform. What does this mean for organizers? We hope it will be good news as the mobile messaging ecosystem continues to evolve.

Mobile messaging is evolving quickly, in part due to the reluctance of wireless carriers to evolve their own text messaging gateways. Scott enjoyed reminding us of his own 2014 prediction when the news broke yesterday. What he predicted was that, “Cell Phone carriers in the US will change their behavior on governing standard message rate SMS for mass texting. There are so many forms of messenger services getting into the mobile space that the way we message each other will evolve. Newer technology will continue to erode the US cell phone carriers’ monopoly on mobile messaging.” If yesterday’s news doesn’t push carriers to take faster action on messaging, nothing will.


Complaint Filed in Political Text Message Spam Case

Mobile messaging serves as an effective tool for organizing and fundraising. In this case, however, ccAdvertising took advantage of this tool, and the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a complaint about ccAdvertising’s actions leading up to the 2012 election.

CREW filed the complaint with the FEC on August 5, calling out Gabriel S. Joseph for using funds from AICPAC (Americans In Contact PAC) to pay for messages sent to D.C. residents by ccAdvertising. Although AICPAC is a separate organization from ccAdvertising, CREW presented a multitude of financial evidence showing the link between the two. CREW’s official complaint showed that Joseph’s actions violated the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA).

According to the complaint, the texts sent included: “The Obama administration perpetuated misinformation about Libya. Vote against Obama!” and “Obama supports homosexuality and its radical social agenda. Say No to Obama on Nov 6!” Of the messages sent, none of them contained a disclaimer with who paid for these messages.

This case shows the great need for mobile messaging senders to be as forthcoming as possible with recipients. It also displays how advocacy groups, candidates and lobbying organizations all need to be cognizant of the legal implications for funding mobile messaging.

The FEC’s decision will likely impact mobile messaging efforts in the future. And we can help influence that decision. Revolution Messaging filed our own petition in January 2012 with the FCC to protect the privacy of mobile users and stop these spam text messages.

“These abuses threaten what is a very promising technology of text messaging for political engagement,” Scott Goodstein, Revolution Messaging’s founder, told POLITICO at the time of ccAdvertising’s actions. “People did not optin to receive these messages and ultimately end up having to pay the cost for this unwanted misinformation that appeared on their mobile phone.”

Learn how you can help end political text message spam and make sure these unsolicited text messages stop. Visit http://pocketspammers.com.


What Not to Text – Inspired by Anthony Weiner

As they say, America loves a scandal. What the latest on Weinergate shows is that texting etiquette can easily become cause for media attention and could potentially derail your political career.

So here are some pro tips to get you through this whole SMS world. Disclaimer: some of this content will get graphic. (Below, you can find a nice TMInfographic a.k.a. too-much-information-graphic.)

Rule #1:

When sending a text message, make sure the recipients of that message know you’re the sender. Sending random texts to people may not yield the best reaction. Read: don’t even think about sending a text as Carlos Danger. Everyone will know it’s you (or they’ll think it’s Anthony Weiner). It just creates a danger-ous situation. (See what I did there?)

Rule #2:

The timing of your text messages can be really important. When scheduling your texts, make sure you’re not sending them at an inopportune time. Sometimes past texts you’ve sent can resurface when you’re running for mayor of New York City. It happens to everyone…

Rule #3:

Avoid autocorrect. Or your texts may turn into sexts. And Anthony Weiner can tell you all about that life. That being said, always check for typos and grammatical errors when sending SMS broadcasts.

Rule #4:

When you’re mobilizing your subscribers to action, make sure it’s not to that kind of action. Ask your supporters to make a phone call, RSVP to an event or take a poll – no need for other types of action.

Rule #5:

Sending links in texts can be a great tool, just remember to make sure the links are for mobile-friendly websites. If Anthony Weiner had sent invitations to campaign rallies and events via text instead of invitations for more intimate events, maybe things would have worked out differently. :)

Weinergate-Pro-Tips-Icons-2MB


FTC Getting Tough on Text Message Spam

The Federal Trade Commission is finally making strides on the text message spam front by getting tough with spammers. They announced yesterday that they filed eight complaints against 29 people and companies in courts in the U.S., according to LA Times. While these crack downs aren’t specifically against political text message spam, they are a good first step in the FTC taking a strong stance against SMS spam. These crack downs are focused more on marketers sending spam promises of free gift cards through text message, which cost the recipients of these spam messages millions of dollars, according to Ad Week.

These companies sent out over 180 million unsolicited text messages and on top of that, they sent unsuspecting consumers to misleading websites where they claimed people could receive their “free” gift certificates.

What did it take to get the FTC to listen? All of you. According to Ad Week, the FTC “received 50,000 complaints for spam texts in general and 20,000 complaints against specific scams named in the lawsuits.” How are we going to continue to get the FTC and the Federal Communications Commission to listen in upcoming important elections in stopping political spammers from similarly taking advantage of consumers? All of you. Visit pocketspammers.com to learn more and sign Revolution Messaging’s petition to tell the FCC to stop political text message spam and to protect voters and their wallets.


Latest on SMS Polling Place Lookup – Hurricane Sandy Updates

Last week, Revolution Messaging unveiled our SMS-based polling place lookup tool, which many of our clients and their supporters or members used to find where to vote on election day. We’re extremely happy that this tool has been a success, but last week’s Hurricane Sandy has made some things uncertain. We are urging users of this service to exercise caution when using it in areas where polling places may be closed, relocated or have their hours changed due to storm-related damage and flooding. The data we deliver with this tool comes from Google’s Civic Info API, and recently Google’s Anthea Watson Strong advised us and other developers using their service as follows:

“The Hurricane Sandy affected states of NY, CT, RI, NJ, MD and VA are still recovering, and we expect to see a number of hurricane related polling place changes. Our data provider is working to collect and publish as many polling place changes as possible. Local election officials are currently focused on disaster recovery and administering the election on Tuesday. To the extent they have capacity to publish changed locations in a format we can use, our data provider is working to ensure we get that information and make it available to you.”

We, along with Google and local election authorities, are doing everything we can to provide accurate information on polling place locations, but in those cases where it may not be certain, we feel it necessary to be honest that local authorities are rightly concerned first and foremost on disaster recovery. Our polling place finder will continue to offer our clients’ members, activists and supporters vital links to allow them to check with the local authorities along with their polling places and addresses, and especially in areas affected by the disaster, we advise them strongly to use these avenues as well.


People Received Thousands of Unwanted Political Spam Text Messages Last Night

Many people received unsolicited spam political text messages last night from anonymous anti-Obama sources. The messages have come from different email sources, including sms@votegopett.com and sms@informedett.com. These abuses threaten what is a very promising technology of text messaging for political engagement. People did not opt-in to receive these messages and ultimately end up having to pay the cost for this unwanted misinformation that appeared on their mobile phone.

Our team at Revolution Messaging has been working hard for over three years to end this type of modern-day push-polling. We filed an official petition asking the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to declare once and for all that this Internet to text message political spam is illegal.

Visit www.pocketspammers.com to learn more about the issue of unsolicited political text message spam and even file an official comment with the FCC that will be soon be addressing this issue. Comments to the FCC are due by November 23rd.

A few of the messages people received last night were:

                                   

Help us fight to end political text message spam and prevent this kind of harassment. Let’s make sure voters aren’t charged for untraceable misinformation in the form of text messages that they never asked for!

UPDATE: Wondering who is behind this? Find out now.


Revolution Messaging Presents New SMS Polling Place Lookup Tool

Revolution Messaging is excited to announce our new polling place lookup tool for the 2012 election. The tool acts as a mobile-friendly way for voters to avoid cluttered and confusing Secretary of State websites when looking for their polling location. The tool uses data from the NOI Voting Information Project (VIP) to instantly deliver voters’ polling places, based on their street address, directly to their phones.

Test the tool yourself by texting LOC and your ADDRESS to 90975 to receive the following text message:

Also provided is the direct link to Revolution Messaging’s state-based Tumblr tool (http://bit.ly/USAVoter). This tool provides additional information, such as voting deadlines, links to all Secretary of State websites and important phone numbers, all on a mobile friendly site. This also ensures people can lookup last minute changes to VIP data, and that Revolution Messaging and our clients are providing the most accurate information to voters.

Interested in learning more? Contact your client representative today at 202-299-9393!