Wireless Spam Out of Control

Wireless carriers are facing a dilemma. If they clamp down on text message spammers, they may lose revenue. If they don’t clamp down on text message spammers, they may lose customers.

Anyone with an e-mail account or comment-enabled blog knows how difficult it is to stop spam. After software developers came up with tools to fight comment spam, for example, spammers figured out how to attack through trackbacks. But e-mail and blog spam software seem to be way ahead of wireless carriers.

Wireless spam is fairly new, so carriers are a little behind in spam-fighting techniques. Some say carriers aren’t doing enough to stop spam because they’re more concerned about money than protecting customers.

At least one wireless carrier cares more about customer satisfaction than the bottom line. According to Network World, spam accounted for 45-60 percent of Nextel’s text messages. After the company implemented anti-spam filters, and white and blacklists, the rate dropped. Spammers are persistent, but so are companies that care about their customers. Unlike e-mail spam, text message spam costs subscribers money, and those pennies can add up.

Should subscribers share the spam-fighting responsibility? Of course. Spammers harvest e-mail addresses, and users have learned to obfuscate addresses on web sites or remove them altogether. The same goes for text messaging addresses.


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