Campaigns are sending billions of election text messages. Here’s how to stop them

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(Nexstar) — If you are feeling bombarded by campaign text messages, you are nowhere near alone. The 2020 campaign cycle is setting a new bar for direct messages to your smartphone.

So many people are flipping on the phone to find messages that begin, “Hi, it’s Kamala” or “Don Jr.: This is the final month of the race,” that analysts tell NPR’s political team that the 2020 Presidential race will someday be viewed as the “text message election.”

The spam combatting firm Robo Killer recently blogged about how heavily voters are being targeted for fundraising and turnout messages and found that, as a country, we will tally billions — yes, billions — of messages over the summer and fall.

“By the time the polls close on November 3rd for the United States Presidential Election, Americans will likely receive over 3 billion political text messages, and over 1 billion political robocalls from both Republican and Democratic parties,” the firm’s staff wrote.  

How do you get rid of the text messages?

For the most part, campaigns are getting your information through publicly available voter registration data, CNET reports.

In most cases, replying “STOP” to the sender should remove you from that specific list, but you’ll likely have to tell multiple numbers to leave you alone. CNET warns to confirm the message is legitimate before responding in order to avoid confirming your information to scammers.

Additional tactics for combatting spam include changing your smartphone message settings to filter out unknown senders, signing up for the Do Not Call Registry and actively reaching out to the campaign to request that your name be removed.

Why are we getting so many?

The texts are popular because they are cheap, legal and offer simple fundraising hooks.

Researchers say the frequency of these texts is jumping as campaigns make their final fundraising push, especially from the GOP.

“In September 2020, RoboKiller estimates political robocalls on behalf of Republicans accounted for 1.8 Million of the 2.7 Billion total political text messages, and 50 million of the 70 million total political robocalls. This accounts for approximately 70% of the total political messages for September,” wrote company representatives.

Once flush with cash, the Trump campaign has actually been facing a significant cash deficit to Biden in the final month of the campaign. With coronavirus complicating in-person fundraising capabilities, digital fundraising is key to this cycle.

Given those dynamics, perhaps it’s not surprising that the pace of these messages, across both parties, is rising quickly, with the volume of campaign texts increasing by around 20% each month since June, according to RoboKiller.

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