Sending text message spam is not cool, but allowing others to send text message spam through your platform is super not cool, and can result in costly class action lawsuits. Twilio found this out the hard way last year, when they allowed GroupMe to send unsolicited text messages through their platform. The class action lawsuit is seeking damages at a minimum of $500 per text message. You can read my comments regarding the Twilio lawsuit and the impact it will have on the SMS marketing industry over on PaidContent.
You think after this lawsuit, Twilio would stop allowing people to send unsolicited text messages through their SMS platform. Nope! Not only did they not stop unsolicited text messaging on their platform, they took to their blog to brag about new apps responsible for sending unsolicited text messages. In a recent blog post, they highlighted Google engineer, Akiva Bamberger for blatantly spamming mobile phones with 18,000+ text messages through the Twilio SMS platform with his app “Cat Facts”. You can see an example of what the message flow looks like below. (It’s pretty damn funny)
The most ridiculous part of the blog post is when Akiva says that his goal was to “let users sign up their own friends to receive facts about cats from a “cat fact” service.” I don’t know about you, but this screams “unsolicited”, and is exactly the same reason why Twilio was sued back in 2011. Did they not learn?
Some may argue that Twilio is just a platform, and can’t be responsible for their users actions. In a recent court opinion, a judge found that the law recognizes liability for any party responsible for the text messages, regardless of which entity physically sends the text messages.
Why does all of this matter? By Twilio allowing SMS spam to be sent through their SMS platform, they’re destroying consumer trust in SMS marketing. The more SMS spam consumers receive, the more unlikely they are to engage with SMS apps in the future. This hurts everyone in the industry, even Twilio.
The solution… Twilio needs to admit there’s an SMS spam problem on their platform, stop glorifying it, and take the needed steps to fix it. If they don’t, we’re going to continue to see an increase in SMS spam, and a decrease in consumer trust for SMS apps.