Spam‾ What spam‾

27 Mar 2008

Who would've thought that a mobile network could be used to send spam messages‾

You can well understand the surprise at China Mobile and advertising firm Focus Media when they were outed by a crack team of CCTV journalists on World Consumer Day, March 15.

While China Mobile's 360mn customers receive unsolicited SMS every single day, that's not the kind of detail you can expect busy executives at like China Mobile ("world's biggest mobile company") to be aware of.

In the last month China Mobile announced a 32% growth in full-year profit. It also unveiled its latest corporate social responsibility report, which specifically referenced the company's efforts to counter spam and promotion of "healthy" and "positive" use of SMS.

In the light of those important undertakings, Mobile can be excused not installing for spam filters in SMS gateways or conducting due diligence on its large customers.

After all, Focus Media chairman Jiang Nanchun has also expressed his shock - shock! - at the idea that his own company, which specialized in wireless promotions, was actually sending text messages without customers' consent.

Indeed, the NASDAQ-listed Focus Media sent spams to more than 200mn cellphone users, according to reports. That's not the kind of operational data any business chief could be expected to know. Jiang and China Mobile have both apologized, and the State Council has promised an investigation.

Who knows what could happen next‾ China Mobile may notice that consumers consider its prices are a ripoff. That truly would be shocking.

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