Aug 31, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Robotext onslaught

A text message as a political lawn sign

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Americans are sick of the constant barrage of robotexts from political campaigns. So they're suing.

Staggering stat: Campaigns have already sent 90.5 million texts this election cycle, including some 68 million from Democrats and around 23 million from Republicans, Axios' Lachlan Markay reports from data by RoboKiller, a blocker app.

The big picture: Marketing texts have an open rate of 98%, compared with 22% for emails, per TextAnywhere, a U.K. firm. So they've quickly become the way to campaign.

What's happening: Plaintiffs are citing the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, which cracks down on phone solicitation, when building their cases against these campaigns.

  • Texts come multiple times a day, from multiple campaigns in multiple states. And sometimes they're even addressed to deceased relatives because voter lists are so outdated.
  • They've brought lawsuits against campaigns on the left and the right, from Texas to California and beyond.

Case in point: Kin Wah Kung of Fremont, California, has filed a civil complaint against the DNC, the Ohio Democratic Party, President Biden's campaign, and Tim Ryan's campaign for senator, WFMJ-TV of Youngstown, Ohio, reports.

  • Kung claims robotexts have invaded his privacy and drained his phone battery. None of the parties has responded to his suit yet.

Flashback: In the past, the Obama and Trump campaigns both settled such robotext lawsuits.

The bottom line: The ping on your phone is the new knock on the door. Campaigns might have to dial it back to avoid more lawsuits and more settlements.

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