Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Annals of idiocy - AT&T spams customers about a TV show

We live in numbing times. There's not much outrage left, we have to marshall what we have to deal with the Cheney/Bush torture program.

Still, lunacy like AT&T's recent bonehead move deserves at least a whimper or two (emphases mine) ...
AT and T Sends Customers ‘Idol’ Ads - NYTimes.com

Some AT&T Wireless customers have voted an emphatic no on a promotion for “American Idol” that popped up on their phones this week.

AT&T, a sponsor of the show, said it sent text messages to a “significant number” of its 75 million customers, urging them to tune in to the season premiere on Tuesday night...

... Mark Siegel, a spokesman for AT&T Wireless, said the message was meant as a friendly reminder. “We want people to watch the show and participate,” Mr. Siegel said. He added, “It makes perfect sense to use texting to tell people about a show built on texting.”

... Mr. Siegel said the message went to subscribers who had voted for “Idol” singers in the past, and other “heavy texters.” He said the message could not be classified as spam because it was free and because it allowed people to decline future missives.

“It’s clearly marked in the message what you need to do if you don’t want to participate,” he said. “It couldn’t be more open and transparent.”

Richard Cox, the chief information officer for Spamhaus, a nonprofit antispam organization based in Britain, countered: “It’s absolutely spam. It’s an unsolicited text message. People who received it didn’t ask for it. That’s the universal definition of spam.”..

...Mr. Siegel of AT&T defended the use of the medium given that voting by text message had played a big role in “American Idol.”

“Text messaging is the perfect way for us to tell people about this wildly successful show and to watch it,” he said...
Mr. Siegel's soul has had a rather bad day. I hope he sends it out for some rehab. Being a spokesbot for AT&T can't be pleasant.

AT&T's cell phone spam attack is not as bad as SONY injecting malware into their customer's computers, but it still deserves a spark of outrage.

Ok, a feeble squib of outrage.

Still. Something.

Update 2/7/09: Gizmodo's comments.

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