There’s a good chance you’ve started to feel like political texts have been streaming in nonstop the past few years. It’s not just you—in October 2022, Americans received nearly 1.3 billion texts related to campaigns.
The average person is tired of being spammed with unwanted political texts. They fill up your texting inbox, making it harder to find messages from friends, family members, and organizations or brands you actually want to hear from. It can even feel like a violation—after all, your phone is a personal space.
Here’s why you’re getting political messages on your phone and how you can stop them. It’s also worth noting that this information should not be considered legal advice. (That’s why we’ve included the disclaimer below.) We just want to offer some insight we’ve learned as a text messaging software provider to help people receive only the texts they want to see.
The information contained in this article should not be relied upon as legal advice nor to determine how regulations apply to your use of SMS and our service. This information is provided “as is” and may be updated or changed without notice. You may use this article for your internal reference purposes only.
Why You’re Getting Political Texts
To learn how to stop political texts, you need to learn why you’re getting them in the first place. Politicians have been investing in political campaign text messages since the 2000s because people are simply more likely to engage with texts than emails or calls. There are a few reasons why campaigns may be texting you specifically:
An organization found your voter registration information
The organization that texted you may have gotten your information off the internet. US voter information is public. When you register to vote, you provide key information to your state of residence. Once you’ve registered to vote, your information is available to almost anyone who knows where to look for it. Campaigns and voting organizations can simply access it and start messaging you.
You gave a campaign your number
If you’re registered with a political party or even affiliated with a voting-related organization (such as one that offers transportation to polls), you may have willingly handed over your phone number, even if you didn’t realize it at the time. You may have even given them specific permission to text you about upcoming campaigns. In this case, you probably wrote down your phone number or even texted them with a special keyword.
How Campaigns Send Texts
To stop getting political texts, it’s also helpful to peek under the hood at how political campaigns send them in the first place. Political organizations may text their potential voters using a texting application, but more likely than not, they reach out through individual cell phones.
Why is that? Any organization that sends text messages to consumers via an application is using application-to-consumer, or A2P, messaging. A2P messaging is subject to regulations from telecom carriers, which include verifying that recipients agree to receive these texts.
Since political campaigns tend to find publicly available voter registration information and text those numbers without asking, they also tend to send those texts without a software application. Instead, they use volunteers’ personal cell phones.
Sending texts directly from one consumer’s cell phone (e.g., a volunteer’s cell phone) to a voter’s phone is considered person-to-person (P2P) messaging. It is not subject to the same stringent regulations as A2P messaging. Even if the recipient does not agree to receive these messages, the FCC has ruled that organizations can send political texts if they do not use autodialing technology and manually dial the number instead.
How to Stop Political Texts
No matter how political organizations get a hold of your information, you need to know how to stop them. There are three steps you can take:
Try to opt out of the campaign
If the political organization messaging you is using texting software—in which case they should have asked you to opt in before sending a text—they must remove you from their contact list once you send them a special keyword. (Often, their texting software will remove you automatically.) They should recognize keywords like STOP, STOPALL, ENDALL, and CANCEL. If you suspect the number is from a scammer and not a campaign, it’s better to block and report the number because replying to a scammer lets them know your number is real.
Read more: How to Block Text Messages
Report the spam
If you’re pretty sure the message is from a spam robotexting tool (or if you want to make sure it’s not) copy and forward the message to SPAM (7726). This message should go straight to your carrier, who will then look into it to see if it was sent by a known spammer.
Reporting spam is also a good choice if the sender seems particularly sketchy—i.e., if they’re sending clearly false information or asking for money on an unknown site.
Filter the text
There are several ways to block or filter texts, depending on your device.
On an iPhone, you can’t block texts sent by an unknown number, but you can filter them, sending them to a new tab called “Unknown Sender.” The process of filtering out texts from unknown or private numbers on an iPhone looks like this:
- Navigate to Settings.
- Select “Messages” from the menu.
- Toggle on the “Filter Unknown Senders” option.
For Android, you can block whoever you’d like. This process for Google Messages should work for most Android devices:
- Navigate to the Messages app.
- Choose the text from the number you want to block.
- From the drop-down menu, select “Details.”
- From the following screen, tap the option for blocking the number.
- On the next screen, choose whether to report the text as spam on the form box. (You don’t have to.)
- Click “OK” to block the number.
Finally, you can use a call-and-text-blocking app, like Should I Answer?, Hiya, and Truecaller. However, before you use one of these tools, keep in mind that they will ask you for sensitive information that you may or may not wish to provide.
How SMS Marketing and Political Texts Should Work
Traditional businesses have to follow certain rules when it comes to SMS marketing. The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) is particularly relevant. This law states that businesses have to ask permission before they text you. (If you recall, political organizations texting from personal phones don’t need to do this, though it’s advisable.)
Following the TCPA not only keeps businesses out of trouble with the FCC, but also ensures that customers trust the brand. Only people who want to receive texts from those brands receive them. For the business itself, adhering to the TCPA also comes with benefits—they enjoy high engagement rates and increased customer satisfaction when they only text people who are interested.
Even though they don’t legally have to, political organizations should follow the TCPA’s regulations for SMS marketing. It helps US citizens avoid receiving unwanted texts, and political organizations ensure they’re engaging with people most likely to listen to and interact with their messages.
How to send political texts that build voters’ trust
As a political organization, send political texts just like you would send SMS marketing messages, adhering to the TCPA. This practice will help you ensure you’re only texting voters who are interested in what you have to say, building trust with them. Here are four easy ways to adopt standard political SMS marketing practices:
- Ensure recipients opt in before you text them. They can opt in by clicking a box on a web form or texting a special keyword, like YES or VOTER.
- Send relevant content. You don’t want to send content your recipients won’t be interested in. Only send content voters signed up for, and make sure it adheres to their interests.
- Segment your lists. Separate your recipients into smaller lists so you can send more targeted messages. The more targeted your texts are, the more likely voters are to enjoy and interact with it. Consider segmenting by location, age, or interest.
- Adopt conversational messaging practices. The best way to change someone’s mind is to engage them in a conversation. Ask voters to respond to your texts so you can get a chat going and make waves.
- Make it easy for recipients to opt out. Include opt-out instructions with each message. Unsubscribe voters whenever someone texts a simple keyword like STOP, ENDALL, or CANCEL.
Adopting standard SMS marketing practices is a great way to help you earn trust with voters—and prevent them from searching for information on how to stop political text messages.
Stopping Political Texts
Political texts can feel invasive—especially when you didn’t sign up for them or forgot that you signed up for them. Now that you know you don’t have to put up with them, you can take action each time you see a new political campaign number in your SMS inbox. Plus, you can use the same blocking techniques for any text you find spammy or problematic.