Google’s RCS Spam Failure

Google, whose failure to get people to use its various chat apps is well known, has been pushing an SMS alternative for years. RCS was to bring parity to Apple’s iMessage system for non-iPhone users. Google worked tirelessly to get carriers on board with RCS because it’s supposed to be better. And yes it’s better: for spammers.

Jon Porter over at The Verge goes over how Android users in India are being flooded with RCS spam that is coming from legit companies.

It’s unclear how widespread the issue currently is, but Indian-based Ishan Agarwal — whose recent tweets have drawn attention to the issue — tells The Verge that for him the problem has been growing worse over the course of 2022, and that he receives an average of between two and five ads a day now. Android Police reports that the problem has been around for about a year, and complaints appear to be coming overwhelmingly from users based in India.

The Verge

How Google hadn’t seen spam on RCS as an issue is beyond me. Spam via SMS is prevalent. We’ve all seen it more times than we can count. RCS just makes it easier to send text AND images to people unsolicited. In some ways, this is why iMessage is immune to this: you must use an Apple device to send iMessages AND they cannot be sent en masse as SMS can.

I agree that Google should have a messaging system to rival that of Apple. Android users deserve to have good experiences with their devices. But if Google doesn’t get this under control, they will have a major reason for people to abandon RCS just as it’s beginning to gain some traction.

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