U.S. Messaging Policy & Guidelines Enforcement to Ensure Higher Deliverability

September 29, 2020
Written by

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As 2020 progresses, text messaging continues to be a critical channel for organizations of all industries, shapes, and sizes to engage with their end users. From our experience, the month leading up to elections typically sees a significant uptick in message volume across the ecosystem. At all times throughout the year, and especially during this time, the wireless community’s goal is to provide the space for innovative engagement while protecting end users/consumers from spam or unwanted messages.

Unfortunately, with massive spikes in message volume, there typically comes an increased number of messages being sent without the permission of end users. Recently, carriers have seen a growing number of consumer spam complaints indicating individuals are getting frustrated with opening up their phones to a message they never opted into. When this occurs, it’s imperative that the wireless community continues to educate all customers on the messaging policies and guidelines that have been put in place to support wanted traffic while preventing unwanted traffic for end users. The CTIA’s Messaging Principles and Best Practices Guide provides an in-depth view into the community’s focus on helping the messaging ecosystem maintain its identity as a trusted and convenient communications environment.

As of September 30, 2020, the larger U.S. carrier industry will begin to more strictly enforce their policies and guidelines across the entire application-to-person (A2P) messaging ecosystem (over 10-digit Long Codes, Short Codes, and Toll-free), specifically focusing on opt-ins, opt-outs, public domain links, and snowshoe messaging. As an important note, the CTIA defines A2P messaging as messaging originating from a business, organization, or entity to communicate with consumers (not consumer-to-consumer messaging). Regardless of the use case, all messages sent through platforms like Twilio are considered A2P, which is reflected in our Messaging Policy. Specific to political messaging, as this traffic traverses a platform to reach consumers, traffic is classified as A2P and subject to A2P policies and guidelines.

While this notification is in no way a change to the policies put forth by carriers, the CTIA, and Twilio, it is a reminder of what is and what is not acceptable within the North American messaging community. We have been told by our carrier partners that there will be greater enforcement of messaging policies and we expect to see increased filtering of the following:

  • Traffic, as identified by increasing customer complaints, that shows evidence of not gaining appropriate opt-in.
  • Informational and promotional traffic failing to have a clear description of how to opt-out, meaning STOP language is not clearly shown to the end user. As a reminder, conversational traffic is consumer-initiated and does not require including STOP language in each response.
  • Traffic using URL shorteners with public domains rather than custom domains owned by the company.
  • Traffic that appears to be snowshoe messaging - a technique used to spread messages across senders for the purposes of overcoming filtering systems (full definition available in the CTIA Guidelines).

As our customers continue to build differentiated customer engagement strategies utilizing text messaging, we encourage reviewing the CTIA’s Messaging Principles and Best Practices Guide as well as Twilio’s Messaging Policy. Adhering to these policies ensures no disruption of service and maintained message deliverability, allowing you to reliably reach end users. During this time, we also encourage our customers to review their opt-in flows and opt-out language, ensure opt-out is being adhered to, send monthly opt-out instructions, review links within their messages, and reread the CTIA’s definition of snowshoe messaging.