Google Messages users in India are receiving tons of spammy ads; possibility of RCS abuse seen as primary cause

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If you are one of the Google Messages users in India experiencing an overwhelming number of ads in a day, you are not alone.

Android’s default messaging app among users in India is reportedly receiving multiple ads despite its activated Spam Protection feature. A user on Reddit further claimed that blocking and reporting the ads wouldn’t stop ads coming from new senders on a daily basis. “Keep in mind though, this is not Google serving ads,” the user adds. “It’s the companies serving ads, basically sending spam SMSes.

According to individuals complaining about the ads, most of the content they receive ar related to insurance, loans, and gambling. All these ads, unfortunately, are not based on a user’s activity, past purchases, or preferences. With this, the site 9to5Google says that the Rich Communication Services (RCS) feature, a protocol between mobile operators and phones that allow businesses to send different media to users, is being exploited. Ideally, businesses should use RCS in practical ways by providing users with media cards, product menus, QR codes, and more. Google details how it envisions the feature for the messaging app:

“Millions of businesses rely on SMS to communicate with mobile consumers. Credit card fraud alerts, flight status updates, and package delivery notifications are common examples of business-to-consumer SMS.

“RCS (Rich Communication Services) upgrades SMS with branding, rich media, interactivity and analytics. With RCS, businesses can bring branded, interactive mobile experiences, right to the default messaging app.”

Making the matter worse is the fact that some of the ads are coming from “Verified Business” accounts, as stated by a Twitter user from India named Ishan Agarwal. However, the reason why it is being allowed remains unknown as Google remains silent about the issue. Interestingly, though, Android Police reports that the problem has been existing for almost a year now. Moreover, there is a report that receiving the spam is not just limited to Pixel or Android One users: it also extends to Samsung phones.

Android Police also suggested disabling RCS to permanently prevent any other businesses from sending you ads in the future. (It is accessible from the Chat Features of the device’s Settings.) If the problem would persist, it could also push more users in India to opt for other SMS apps with no RCS capabilities. This will be a problem for Google since it plans to replace SMS and MMS messaging with RCS in the future.