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Google addresses RCS ad controversy, pauses business messaging in India

RCS users in India will no longer receive promotional messages, at least for now.
By
May 30, 2022
Google Messages Spam Protection
Robert Triggs / Android Authority
TL;DR
  • According to Google, Indian businesses are abusing an RCS feature to deliver promotional messages.
  • The company told Android Authority that it has temporarily disabled the feature in India.
  • The move will not affect end-users or change RCS functionality in other markets.

Over the past few months, businesses in India have been increasingly using Rich Communication Services (RCS) to deliver ads and other promotional messages. The practice reached a tipping point recently, with many users reportedly receiving multiple such messages every day. To make matters worse, the senders were often labeled as a “Verified Business” in the Google Messages app.

Now, Google India has issued a statement to Android Authority, acknowledging the issue.

Google’s statement on RCS ads

According to a spokesperson for Google, businesses using RCS to deliver ads are in direct violation of the company’s policies. The full statement is as follows:

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.

Google’s decision to completely disable RCS Business Messaging in India is unprecedented. Even though the feature is available globally, it was never exploited elsewhere — or at least not to this degree.

Thankfully, the company seems to have responded to the situation fairly quickly. In our recent coverage of this issue, we opined that the problem needs to be addressed before businesses in other countries adopt the practice too.

While we don’t know how Google plans to combat unsolicited marketing just yet, its decision to disable Business Messaging should serve as a temporary fix. Given that businesses in India have to relay messages through Google’s own Jibe Cloud platform, it should have plenty of leverage to prevent abuse in the future. Finally, the default Google Messages app on Android could get a few improvements to its spam detection feature too.

Regardless, if you live in India, you can now finally enable RCS without needing to worry about ads and unwanted promotional messages.