Google has been at the forefront of all privacy-related issues and concerns. In the recent case of its RCS (rich communication services) launch and subsequent discontinuation of it on Android, Google has been forthcoming about what was going on. We understand that in the past few months, there have been businesses in India who were abusing the services by sending spam messages. They sent unsolicited advertising content to any phone number they can find across the country.
Many firms have utilised messaging applications and SMS messages to sell new items to former customers in the United States and other countries. However, similar adverts in India are not always the result of a user’s purchasing action.
Google has been working actively with the technology market and device makers on multiple carrier networks in various countries to provide customers with a seamless messaging experience in their native messaging apps. However, it has been observed that some businesses are using RCS messaging to send promotional messages. As the users started voicing their displeasure on Twitter, Google stepped up and deactivated the RCS feature for India and promised to work towards improving the user experience.
Dawn of RCS Messaging
According to TechCrunch News, RCS is the result of a collaboration between a number of industry players to enhance traditional SMS with modern features like richer texts and end-to-end encryption. It works similarly to a normal text messaging programme. RCS Messaging helps manage the media more effectively. It blends classic and contemporary components to provide users with rich capabilities.
Due to interactive features that provide new use cases to the traditional SMS channel, businesses implemented RCS to boost customer engagement. Brands could better engage with customers via RCS Business Messaging (RBM) by sharing high-resolution images, GIFs and videos, sharing product carousels, adding CTA links, appointment booking links, mapping directions to actual locations, and more!
Brand Advertising and Google RCS Messaging
Businesses in India began using RCS messages because it offered verified sender profiles that built trust with the customers. Brands could send feature-rich messages to customers with real badges and logos.
Advertising finds its way into almost everything you use, whether fashion or technology, and it appears that certain firms in India are focusing on abusing advertising via RCS Messaging. Messaging services are used to help expand awareness of brands and relevance. End-to-end encryption is used in RCS communications to ensure user privacy. It goes a step further in user privacy and security by making opt-ins and opt-outs a legal necessity for enterprises.
Recently, it was noticed that RCS Messaging became part of spam advertising. Brands started abusing RCS capability to send a flood of rich media adverts to Android users in India. Every day, the enterprises send out countless advertisements to Android users, pushing their products and services, and creating discomfort for many users in the country. These advertisements weren’t based on the customers’ online buying or purchasing habits. Instead, regardless of their digital activities, these random adverts] appeared on their Google Messaging app.
The Messages app is now the default SMS app on most handsets, so this wasn’t limited to Pixel or Android One users. However, some users have also reported seeing these adverts in their pre-loaded SMS app, which makes us suspect that the RCS protocol is exploited to deliver these ad banners.
Enterprises should be sensitive towards user preferences and should respect their privacy and authorisation for messaging. RCS crossed 500 million monthly active users worldwide during last month, a testament to its popularity. It would not have been necessary for Google to disable Rich Business Messaging service if it hadn’t been for some bad actors who tried to take advantage of these services to track users without their knowledge. In order to protect user privacy and security, Google has disabled access to its native implementation on Android devices that do not comply with certain standards in regards to the RCS implementations.
It’s a good thing from Google’s point of view to stop the malicious usage of RCS. While this may be disappointing for eager users who want access to these features, we’re optimistic about resuming a new rollout soon from Google, after they are confident that any potential risks are addressed.
We believe that RCS messaging is a perfect solution for the changing business landscape, and its return will be welcomed. If you think likewise, do let us know.