SMS Spam Filtering?

Recently I’ve seen SMS spam appearing on my Droid. That never happened a few years ago. It occurred to me that if this was Email instead of SMS, I’d have a “mark as spam” button to hit or the ability to block the sender, etc. But Verizon (at least) doesn’t seem to have such a facility. Or it’s just really well hidden.

That makes me wonder why Google doesn’t offer an add-on for Android that implements Akismet style spam filtering for incoming SMS messages. It seems that with Google Voice, they’re already innovating right past the carriers anyway, so why not fix SMS too?

Now it’s entirely possible that Verizon has blocked thousands of SMS spams from ever reaching me, but how would I know that? They’re not very transparent about what’s going on.

About Jeremy Zawodny

I'm a software engineer and pilot. I work at craigslist by day, hacking on various bits of back-end software and data systems. As a pilot, I fly Glastar N97BM and high performance gliders in the northern California and Nevada area. I'm also the original author of "High Performance MySQL" published by O'Reilly Media. I still speak at conferences and user groups on occasion.
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10 Responses to SMS Spam Filtering?

  1. Anton Kudris says:

    Not sure about Verizon, since I live in Russia, but my guess would be that no sms is being blocked on operators (I’m mean Verizon) level. SMS spam costs much more compared to email spam and sms sender can be easily identified. Google made a great platform. Their position is to give developers ability to create apps that can manage emails (including blocking spam).
    I’m working for russian antivirus company Dr.Web and recently our mobile team released android app that can block undesired sms. And I’m pretty sure soon there will be lots of such apps. Just select one which you like the most

  2. Roger says:

    SMS is a profit center for the carriers. The volume of voice calls has been going down since 2008. The carrier makes money both through the recipients paying (per message or a bundle) as well to a far lesser extent by charging the companies that provide the messages.

    They have to be very careful – they want to encourage volume of messages but at the same time not piss off users into disabling them completely. Being opaque about the service best serves those needs. What is effective is calling them up for each and every single spam message you receive. It costs them several dollars just to answer the phone which wipes out the profit from many messages. That will encourage them to improve the filters as well as providing a cheaper way of dealing with spam such as a way of marking messages as such directly on the phone as you get them.

  3. Hari says:

    With email to sms gateway as an easy and less identifiable option, I always wondered way there is no or very little spam. Almost makes me think that carriers setup some sort of filtering to not pissoff customers.

  4. Joe Crawford says:

    If you’re receiving on a Google Voice number, you can indeed “Mark Spam” to any SMS. I’ve luckily not received such an SMS, but it seems obvious once you say it.

  5. Chad Wakjer says:

    Anton Kudris wasn’t exactly clear, but Android is so open that you can make an app that handles incoming SMS messages instead of the default app (or even in addition to, acting as a filter). I’ve been spending the last couple months on Android development, it’s pretty sweet/insane.

  6. Abu Abduulah says:

    Hi Bro.
    I hope this message find you well.
    Sorry but I am not fluent in English.
    I am saudi, and by the way I found your blog.
    I just bought iPhone 4.
    If you have any good Apps. please share it with me.
    Good luck.
    Yours,
    Abu Abdullah

  7. KMSelf says:

    Mr. Number Call Block

    It blocks both unwanted phone calls (suspected spam, anyone not in contacts, I’ve requested that specified contact groups also be directed to the blocker), and SMS texts detected as spam.

    Having a widely known phone number (online resume …) I find this very useful.

  8. vl says:

    Norton Mobile Security offers spam blocking, protection against infections and privacy theft for your Android.

    http://bstdownload.com/reviews/norton-mobile-security-2/

  9. ben says:

    To the multitude of idiot mobile app developers out there: *Filtering* SMS spam messages is not the same as *BLOCKING* SMS spam messages. I want to *BLOCK* SMS spam messages, as I am charged for them by my carrier. Merely filtering such SMS spam messages to a Spam folder really does nothing for me. I am still charged for them! Carriers need to be sued for not blocking spam and especially for charging customers for receiving them! This is a total scam by three parties really: 1. the carriers; 2. the SMS spam senders; 3. the bogus “SMS blocker” app developers. They all deserve to be banished.

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