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Human vs Automated Texting

What's the difference?

Texting Technology

Most customers seeking a new texting platform are not aware of the most important question to ask: are the texts sent by a human or an autodialer?
This question, while seemingly simple, has decades of legal battles behind it. The FCC imposes strict fines (up to $16,000 PER violation) against any organization that violates the law regarding automated messaging.
If you are a political campaign looking to add Texting to your marketing efforts, it's important to be informed on the technology behind your voter outreach.

Peer-to-Peer Texting

  • Human to Human Text Messaging
  • No different than texting one of your friends from your cell phone
  • Each message is sent individually and manually by a human
  • Doesn't require special permission to message a contact
  • The only texting option offered by RoboCent

Bulk AutoDialer Texting

  • Uses an AutoDialer to send thousands of texts a second to a list of contacts
  • Requires Prior Written Opt-in Consent to contact a phone number with an AutoDialer
  • RoboCent does not send bulk texts

Managed vs Self-Service

RoboCent offers both Managed and Self-Service options. This determines who is sending the outbound text messages, one-by-one.

Managed

If you select the Managed option, RoboCent’s team of In-House Agents will handle all outbound sending. Our agents will ensure your message begins sending at the start time selected.

Self-Service

If you select the Self-Service option, your team of staff and volunteers are responsible for all outbound sending for this campaign.

Who Sends the Texts?

The RoboCent Platform requires every text message to be sent by a Human Agent.
Peer-to-Peer Text Messaging is not automated. While RoboCalls use a dialer to automatically call every number on the contact list, text messaging has much stricter legal requirements. In order to send a text without Opt-In consent, a human must initiate the message to the contact. This is exactly what you're picturing, a human must individually and manually click the "Send Message" button for every text that is sent through our platform. As you can imagine, this can become quite time consuming for most organizations.
Thankfully, RoboCent has a solution (sensing a theme?). We staff over 30 agents who are here specifically to send your outbound text messages. Unlike other providers who offer "In-House Texting Agents", all RoboCent texting Agents and support staff are based in the US, registered to vote, speak and write fluent English, and regularly participate in US elections. No overseas call banks or overworked office workers, just a freelance network of people who are interested in US Politics. Our Agents are vetted and trusted with your content, in addition to being under an NDA with RoboCent to ensure your information is secure and private.
Of course, if you would rather use your own staff, volunteers, (or yourself) to send the messages, the Agent Portal is designed specifically for you. Learn more: Agent Portal
In-House Agents average 7,500 to 10,000 texts per hour. Typically, our users average 4,000 to 6,000 texts per hour but can theoretically send at the same speed as our Agents.

What's the difference?

A human initiated text means that a human was involved in the sending of that text message. This requires a person to click a button to actually send the text message to the contact. An automated (or bulk) text is sent by an autodialer with no human intervention.
Unless you have written Opt-In consent to contact your voters, you cannot legally message them with an automated text.
Thankfully, RoboCent's system uses human agents to send each and every text through our platform. You can send text messages through RoboCent with confidence knowing that a human is behind every message.

Can I use an automated texting platform?

This depends on the type of consent you have to message your contacts. According to CTIA (https://www.ctia.org/), a text message that originates from the political entity or business is a one-way alert and requires express written consent to contact the consumer.
To use an automated texting platform, you must first obtain express written consent from the owner of each phone number you are contacting.
As long as you have obtained consent, the consent has not be revoked, and you have independently created and vetted the opt-in list, you are able to use an automated platform.
The Consumer must give express written permission before a business/political organization sends them a text message with an autodialer.
CTIA represents the U.S. wireless communications industry and companies throughout the mobile ecosystem.

What type of system does RoboCent use?

For Text Messaging, RoboCent exclusively uses a proprietary, human initiated texting system. We do not provide an autodialer that is capable of sending automated text messages to contacts in bulk. For every text to be sent through our system, a human must initiate it.
This means, even if you do not have Opt-In consent to contact your phone numbers, you can use RoboCent's human-based system to message your contacts one-by-one.

If all messages are sent by a human, who sends all these messages?

RoboCent offers our in-house agents to send your messages via our "Managed Sending" option. You can enable this feature when scheduling your text campaign. Alternatively, you can use our "Self-Service" option to add your own agents to send the messages.
Our resource guide below has more information to help answer this question.

What's an autodialer?

An autodialer is a system that is autonomously able to text numbers in rapid succession without any human intervention. The legal definition, as defined by the Federal Communications Commission, is below:
The TCPA defines an autodialer as “equipment which has the capacity—(A) to store or produce telephone numbers to be called, using a random or sequential number generator; and (B) to dial such numbers.”

What is the TCPA?

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) is an act that went into effect in 1991 by the FCC. This document outlined the approved ways to contact landline and mobile phones and has set the legal precedence for all phone communications for political and business use since.
A summary of the TCPA is below.

Can contacts tell the difference?

Contacts that receive the text won't be able to tell the difference between a manual, human initiated message and a bulk, automated text message.

I receive automated texts all the time. Do people actually get sued for this?

Yes. And it's an expensive headache.

References

M3AAWG Mobile Messaging Best Practices for Political Programs in the United States

CTIA: Messaging Principles and Best Practices

FDIC Consumer Compliance Examination Manual

FCC Declaratory Ruling DA 20-670