Google Messages users in India have reported receiving a deluge of unwanted ads in recent weeks using Rich Communication Services (RCS). Google has employed a response strategy: turn them all off.
According to The Verge, Company spokesperson Kaori Miyake confirmed that Google had disabled the feature in India. They said “We are aware that some businesses are abusing our anti-spam policies to send promotional messages to users in India. We are disabling this feature in India while we work with the industry to improve the experience for users.”
For the past several months, RCS (Rich Communication Services) users in India have been bombarded with advertisements via the Google Messages app. The problem has gotten so bad that users reported receiving numerous adverts each day that were predatory, seeking users’ private and financial information.
Of course, this is not an RCS-only issue; similar tactics have been observed with SMS. However, because RCS offers branding, rich media, and interactivity, the advertisements are made to appear virtually legitimate, creating a risk to individuals who receive them.
To make matters worse, the ads were coming from “Verified Business” accounts, implying that the scammers were utilizing Google’s Business Messaging feature, which is intended to be used only to send confirmation texts to users based on previous purchases or activities, and always at the users’ request. These “ads” or spam were nothing of the sort. Google has since addressed to the problem, issuing the comment below to Android Authority:
We are aware that some businesses are abusing our anti-spam policies to send promotional messages to users in India. We are disabling this feature in India while we work with the industry to improve the experience for users.
Disabling RCS Business Messaging would allow Indian users to continue using RCS in Google Messages without having to worry about these sorts of adverts taking over their messaging app. Furthermore, it was critical for Google to address the issue and provide a remedy as soon as possible before it expanded further.
People previously claimed that the only way to dodge the flood of advertising was to disable RCS entirely – not a desirable experience. Google’s decision to disable corporate communications is a better short-term solution, but it is certainly not long-term. Sanaz Ahari, product management director for Android Messages, told us in 2019 that the company’s ambition for RCS was “a terrific, easy user experience that just works for every Android user.” RCS has gone a great way since then, but more work is still to be done.