With the 2018 midterm elections approaching, political commentary and news has gone into overdrive. It might be starting to feel like it's impossible to avoid the 24 hour news cycle, especially when you're suddenly getting push notifications from politicians you've never even heard of, let alone voted for. If it's becoming overwhelming and you want to know how to opt out of political text messages, there's good news: it's totally possible.
According to Minneapolis' KARE11 News, political texting campaigns are the latest strategy for politicians to reach thousands of voters as quickly and directly as possible. What's more, they're totally legal. Shawn Wanta, a consumer law attorney, told KARE11 that a campaign does have to follow a set of laws, but that those laws are pretty loose.
"The act states it’s OK for political campaigns to manually send text messages to individuals," he said, referring to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. “If a campaign volunteer or worker uses his/her cell phone to send a text message to another individual that would be OK under the law.”
What's more, Wanta explained that a campaign can gain your "consent" in a variety of ways, from signing up for an email newsletter to writing your name down at a campaign rally.
And if you have literally never signed up for anything close to that and you're still getting text messages from a candidate at three in the morning, Wanta said it means that campaign volunteers are texting you manually off of an acquired phone list, which, again, is totally legal. So yeah, if you've ever bought anything with a credit card, it's possible that you could be targeted for political messaging.
But if it bothers you, that doesn't mean you have to endure it for another draining week (and beyond, if the texts have to do with 2020.) The first, easiest way to opt out of a political text message is to text back with "STOP." Of course, this isn't a perfect strategy: You'll likely have to opt out this way every single time, especially if you're getting messages from more than one campaign.
If those texts don't work and you're still receiving those campaign messages, you might have to contact the campaign of the politician texting you directly. Wanta explained that if you reach out to the campaign, regardless of whether it's an email, a phone number, or an in-person interaction at one of their hubs, then it's legally impermissible for them to keep contacting you again.
Unfortunately for those who don't want to receive political messages via text message, this is one of those aspects of adulthood that doesn't look like it'll go away anytime soon. Sending a text message can cost as little as six cents, compared to the 65-cent cost of a direct mailer, according to Eric Beans, chief executive officer of Texting Base, in conversation with Sun Sentinel. Plus, since text messages have an open rate of 98 percent, according to Beans, it's likely that this new political strategy is only going to increase as time goes on.