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Why did Google disable RCS’ Business Feature only in India?

Google has been forced to pause its RCS feature as verified businesses inundate users with unwanted ads of credit cards and gambling.

Google has announced that it will be turning off RCS’ (Rich Communication Services) Business Messaging feature following user complaints of the service being used to deliver unwanted ads, according to a report in The Verge.

Why it matters: The service is available all over the world but it is the first time that it has been disabled in any country. The move may discourage companies in other countries from exploiting the service to inundate users with promotional messages.

Understanding RCS’ Business Messaging feature: The businesses used RCS’ business messaging feature to deliver promotional ads.

  • The feature lets verified businesses send messages to users that go beyond a typical text, with images and interactive features, as per Google.
  • It was touted as an upgrade over SMS which was merely a string of words but RCS could include “branding, rich media, interactivity, and analytics”.
  • The feature was meant to be used as a way to communicate with users for purposes of sending copies of travel tickets or links for buying additional products based on a user’s past purchase.

Why did Google ban tbe feature: A spokesperson from Google India told 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.”

Is this ban permanent: The ban seems to be a temporary one until Google can find a way to address the spam from businesses, as per the report in Android Authority.

How was it abused in India: Many businesses have flooded their customers with frequent ads pushing credit cards and gambling apps, among other things.

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  • These ads were coming from verified business accounts, according to a report in 9to5Google.
  • Users had no choice but to switch off the RCS feature in their Google Messages app to avoid the ads before Google paused the ads.
  • The problem was acute as the Messages app comes as the default SMS app on most smartphones, Android Police said in their report.

What is RCS: It is an online protocol that was chosen by the GSM Association in 2008 to replace the current texting standard SMS (Short Message Service), which has been around since the 1990s, according to an article in The Verge.

  • The GSMA came up with the standard in 2016 and Google was one of the major backers of it.
  • Major telecom carriers along with several hardware manufacturers had promised to offer support for the RCS. Some of the manufacturers include Samsung, Lenovo, LG, and Microsoft.

Where does Google go from here: The company has been very eager to promote the RCS standard, via its Messages app, as an alternative to SMS and MMS so it is unlikely that it will abandon it altogether.

  • The company is likely to have plenty of leverage to prevent abuse in the future, as per Android Authority because many businesses have to relay messages through Google’s Jibe Cloud platform.
  • The default Google Messages app on Android could get a few improvements to its spam detection feature as a result of this ban.

Also read:

Written By

I cover several beats such as Crypto, Telecom, and OTT at MediaNama. I can be found loitering at my local theatre when I am off work consuming movies by the dozen.

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.

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