Text messaging appears to be a focus for several firms in India. Advertising tends to seep into anything and everything you use in some form. Businesses in India have recently misused Google Messages and its RCS communications capabilities.

Users of Google Messages in India have been complaining about more and more advertisements appearing over RCS texting over the past several weeks. While many companies, including those in the US and other nations, have utilized SMS texts and messaging applications to market new products to previous consumers, these advertisements in India are not always related to a user’s purchasing behavior.

Business messaging on RCS, as Googles Jibe website points out , is intended for tasks like sending copies of your flight tickets or sending links for making more purchases based on a previous purchase upon a user’s request.

Google clarifies:

SMS is the primary method used by millions of businesses to reach mobile customers. Business-to-consumer SMS messages include alerts for credit card fraud, airline status updates, and parcel delivery announcements.

SMS is upgraded with branding, rich media, interactivity, and analytics through RCS (Rich Communication Services). RCS enables companies to brand and integrate interactive mobile experiences directly into the default messaging app.

RCS is meant to be used by enterprises in this manner. That definitely isn’t what’s going on in India right now.

RCS advertisements in Google Messages seem to be originating from verified business accounts, as brought to our attention by Ishan Argwal on Twitter . The objective of Google’s initial back in 2020 announcement was to enable customers to communicate with businesses. Advertising undoubtedly had a purpose, but there is no doubt that it is being misused in India. Android Police says cites examples of advertisements issued by Kotak Mahindra Bank, Bajaj Finserv, Buddy Loan, and PolicyBazaar as evidence that these advertisements had been running for almost a year. We may infer from user reports that the frequency of these advertisements has been increasing, particularly over the previous few months.

These advertisements are hardly innocent however, as many of the cases we’ve seen were for personal loans, a market that frequently engages in predatory behavior. One user reports reported receiving one of these advertisements on a phone without even an active SIM card.

At least in this quantity, it appears that the Indian market is where this technique is currently most prevalent.

What can be done about these Google Messages advertisements? Sadly, none of the solutions are completely satisfactory. As shown below, you can report these companies and prevent them from sending you messages in the future.

As an alternative, you can completely disable RCS functionalities within the Google Messages app. This harsh action shouldn’t even be necessary, yet it seems to be the only surefire way to stop these advertising from showing up. Since switching to a different SMS app also disables RCS, this is also prevented by doing so. Turning off RCS isn’t a significant concern for most people in the area because WhatsApp and other similar messaging applications are the main forms of communicating in India, even though this situation shouldn’t even exist in the first place.

We’ve contacted Google about the adverts in Google Messages RCS and this obvious system abuse, but the firm was unable to respond with a statement in time for publication.

FTC: We use income-generating auto affiliate connections. MORE ON RCS. More.
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