Dreading The Post-Holiday Inbox

Like many of you, I will spend most of an hour tomorrow morning clearing a holiday inbox overrun by unwanted email. It will take me zero seconds to rid myself of spam delivered via text message since the total was none. This is no accident. Parties in the mobile ecosystem worked with the Mobile Marketing Association to create Consumer Best Practice Guidelines that are designed in ensure that mobile does not duplicate spam hell that many email users visit. Included are explicit instructions to protect mobile subscribers. Among them, are the following guidelines: • Content providers must obtain approval from subscribers before sending them commercial SMS (text messages) or MMS (multimedia) messages and other content. • Upon entering a program, the subscriber must be told how to opt-out of the program. • Selling mobile opt-in lists is prohibited. • It is fundamental to the concept of control that a subscriber maintains the ability to stop participating and receiving messages from a shortcode program when desired. • A subscriber can stop participating and receiving messages from any program by sending "STOP" to the shortcode used for that program. Violators are subject to penalties by the mobile operators, including rejection of subsequent programs submitted by the brand and/or the mobile provider that licensed the shortcode. I’ve received only one spam message in the five years that I’ve been carrying two mobile devices – ironically it came from AT&T when the carrier violated the Moments of Trust by breaking the rules and sending an unsolicited SMS about American Idol. AT&T sent the following to many of its 75 million subscribers: “AT&T Free Msg: Get ready for American Idol! AI 8 starts this Tues (1/13) at 8pm on FOX. Check out AT&T's official AI web site from you [sic] PC - www.att.com/idol for the latest info on our $1MM sweepstakes, test your AI IQ by playing the trivia game, and much more. Reply stop to end mktg msgs.” You may remember that AT&T received quick and loud criticism. However, and most importantly, it has never repeated the stunt. Back to our email inboxes, several reports say that unwanted emails worldwide total between 100 billion and 200 billion daily. Microsoft has said that approximately 97 percent of all emails sent are neither requested nor desired. If only there was an effective STOP button on our keyboards. (Article first published as Dreading The Holiday Inbox on Technorati.)