Abuse of bulk messaging
03 December 2014

Communication has traversed through many phases and epochs. Every span of communication is intriguing, be it voice, text or symbol Communication is, however, deemed as consummated when an encoded message by a sender is decoded by the recipient. Human communication was evolved to cultivate understanding and harmonious co-existence. But humans known to be resourceful in inventing mischief and creating bad blood had since taken communication out of context and used it to serve base ends.


The advent of data transmission or digital communication which is the physical transfer of data over a point-to-point or point-to-multipoint communication channels was received with elation when it debuted since it involves the transfer of discrete messages. Data transmission no doubt has a long history. It extends beyond modern computer connections and wireless devices with its earliest roots in Samuel Morses 1837 exhibition of a telegraph system which however, is contended by history, posted by communication experts crediting telegraph patent to inventor, Charles Wheatstone for the same year. The telegraph served the data communication needs for over a century but without suffering the level of abuse modern devices are being subjected.


The succeeding data communication device being facsmille often shortened as fax had capabilities the telegraph process did not have. Facsmille transmission which is also a data communication involves a system which copies, sends and receives documents by way of telephone lines. The advantage of fax is that it allows the corresponding parties to share exact copies of documents by duplicating and sending on one end, and then receiving and reproducing them on the other end. It is often described as the telephonic transmission of scanned printed material (both text and images), usually to a telephone number connected to a printer or other output device.


Facsmille which came into use in the early 20th century when newspaper houses began to use them widely to transmit photographs between branch offices started facing stiff challenges in the mid 1990s from internet based alternatives. But fax is still said to retain some advantages, particularly in the transmission of sensitive material which if sent via the internet unencrypted, may be vulnerable to interception. However, fax as a device suffered considerable abuse in the hands of fraudsters who used the machines to forward phoney documents to unsuspecting victims. At some point in Nigeria, fax machines were more associated with fraud than any genuine communication needs. Many held the view that anyone with a fax machine had fraudulent motive behind the acquisition. Much as facsmille was abused, it never served the despicable ends of disparaging public office holders in the way more modern devices are deployed.


The short message service (sms) coming on the heels of facsmille is not entirely considered a replacement as some organizations still sparingly make use of fax machines. The short message service (sms) is however in prevalent use. It is a text messaging service component of phone, web or mobile communication system. It uses standardized communications protocols to allow fixed lines or mobile phone devices to exchange short text messages. By the end of 2010, SMS was adjudged the most widely used data application, with an estimated 3.5 billion active users or about 80% of all mobile phone subscribers. The key idea behind SMS was to use the telephone-optimized system to transport messages on the signaling paths needed to control the telephone traffic during periods when no signaling traffic existed.


With the device of SMS in use, experts considered how huge number of messages could be forwarded to a multitude of telephone terminals. That gave rise to bulk messaging platform. Bulk messaging is the dissemination of large numbers of SMS messages for delivery to mobiles phone terminals. It is used by media companies, enterprises, banks (for marketing and fraud control) and consumer brands for a variety of purposes. Bulk messaging could be used for alerts, reminders, marketing and sometimes to broadcast goodwill from an organization to consumers or customers. It is a mode of communication devised to reach a large number of people at short notice and at minimal cost. It has come to replace other tangible forms of communication like invitation to functions, notification of birth of new born babies, notification of bereavement, information on developing news, messages of felicitation and goodwill and other sundry communication needs. Its inherent advantage is that bulk messaging allows the delivery of SMS messages to mobile handsets anywhere in the world.


Just as the internet has gained notoriety as the most abused medium of communication, bulk messaging device being a sub-service of the internet shares generously in this malady. The value of the internet has been atrophied owing to widespread abuse. Internet users no longer believe most of the things that are posted on the net owing to serial abuse and liberty accorded truth. The lack of appropriate instruments to regulate the use of the internet especially in our country has made that rich source of information unreliable as people post hear-says and fictions as truths. This lack of regulation also provides a platform for people of little indiscretion to launch virtuperations at public officers who have inadvertently become their objects of hate and dislike. It is on the internet that you would see people vent their fury against public officers even when such are unwarranted.


In recent times, these merchants of mischief have realized that the internet does not enjoy complete ease of access. They have re-directed their arsenal to bulk messaging platform for their hate messages to be offloaded on mobile terminals which are prevalent in use. The principal target, in Akwa Ibom State for instance, is Governor Godswill Akpabio and his family who are daily disparaged through the abuse of this modern device of bulk messaging. What a way to negate and alter the value of the device to fit the caprice of primitive considerations. Whether one accepts it or not, hate is a base instinct, it is primitive and can not occupy a noble mind. The messages often sent drip of hate and not any constructive input that can advance the cause of governance or the interest of the people.


The National Communications Commission (NCC) and other regulatory agencies must step-up their game of regulating and monitoring the communications industry with the intent to sanitize it. The internet has been overly licentious using the cover of amorphousness. Such excuse smacks of inefficiency and incompetence on the part of the agencies. The regulatory agencies must work out a modality that would vouchsafe access to patents to publications including bulk messaging that have taken to the use of pseudo names. It is only when NCC and other regulatory bodies do this, that they would validate the reasons for their existence.

Daily Independence

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