Wireless carrier filtering of your outgoing text messages can vary between carriers and countries. While this can seem like a black box at times, we have complied the following information to help you understand why a message might have been filtered.
- Why do carriers have content and spam filters?
- How do carriers filter messages?
- How do I know if my messages are being filtered?
- How do I prevent my messages from being filtered?
- United States and Canada SMS filtering
- Message Delivery in the United States and Canada
Why do carriers have content and spam filters?
When subscribers receive messages they find objectionable, they may file complaints or report the carrier to governing bodies, seek damages, or simply stop being a customer. All of these things reduce the revenue of or increase costs for carriers. Thus, it is in the best interest of carriers to protect their subscribers from what they consider to be objectionable content.
How do carriers filter messages?
There is no standard practice for carrier filtering across all carriers. For some, filtering can range from a simple static list of prohibited terms to advanced machine learning systems that work in real time. Regardless of the system, carriers keep their filtering systems closely guarded secrets. In turn, TextP2P cannot say definitively how these systems work or why a particular message was filtered.
How do I know if my messages are being filtered?
TextP2P does not always know or predict when a message has been filtered by a carrier. Some carriers falsely report filtered messages as delivered to prevent spammers from reverse engineering filtering systems. In other cases, carriers will tell TextP2P that a particular message has been filtered. If TextP2P knows that a message has been filtered, we will pass this information to your application by sending a request to the status callback URL you set when you sent the message. The error code we will use when we know that carrier filtering has taken place is 30007.
How do I prevent my messages from being filtered?
If you see an increase in carrier filtering of your messages, these questions provide some general guidelines for sending messages:
Is it a good user experience?
A confusing message to users might seem like someone they don’t know has their contact information. Suspicious users are more likely to report messages to their carrier, and when messages are reported to carriers it becomes very likely that future messages from that number or with similar content will be filtered. In some cases, the user may have forgotten that they requested the message. Also, how the message is formatted and written is important: overly long messages, overly capitalized messages, mysterious links, hyperbole, and using aggressive language can raise the level of suspicion users feel about a message.
Do users have clear opt out instructions?
If users do not understand how to opt out, they may feel they have no choice but to contact their carrier to request that messages are blocked.
United States and Canada SMS filtering
Carriers in the U.S. and Canada appear to be using adaptive (machine learning) software systems to protect their users. These systems factor in both the rate of send, as well as the content of the messages and behave very much like email filtering systems. Messages receive a cumulative score based on how many messages have come from a phone number during a time period, how many similar messages have transited the carrier’s network, or if the message contains content that makes it a high match for spam. Time periods are measured by the second, minute, hour and day.
TextP2P does not definitively know how many messages can be sent from a long code before a user can expect to hit a filter. However, we highly recommend following the guidelines mentioned in Messaging Principals and Basic Practices published by CTIA in Jan. 2017, where CTIA suggests that Application-To-Peer (A2P) Messaging that's "consistent with typical human operation" should be expected to be deliverable across the messaging ecosystem. Some key attributes of typical human operation include:
- Throughput: 15-60 messages per minute
- Unique Recipients: 3000 unique recipients a day
Carriers in the US sometimes report to TextP2P when a message has been filtered. If you suddenly see that a large number of your messages are resulting in a status of “Undelivered” with a 30007 error, the carrier has taken some sort of action which has caused your message to be filtered.
Message Delivery in the United States and Canada
I think my number has been blacklisted by a carrier. Can I get it removed?
No. However most blacklists in the US and Canada use a “cooling off” period, which means that most numbers will automatically be removed from the blacklist after a period of time. This period of time varies based on how many messages were blocked by the carrier from this number, and carriers do not share this time period with us.
Can I get my messages whitelisted by the carriers?
US Carriers do not whitelist messages from long code numbers.