In a world where everyone is connected all the time with no escape, we live and die by our ability to mute, block and ghost those whose company we don’t wish to keep. Unfortunately, there are some people who will continue finding ways to contact you, even when you would really rather they didn’t. Even more unfortunately, one of those people is apparently United Australia Party leader Clive Palmer.
Last week, anime shitposter Clive Frederick Palmer began sending text messages to Australians encouraging them to vote for his United Australia Party. “Make Australia Great,” they read, echoing the bright yellow billboards posted by highways, which themselves echo US president Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan. “Vote 1 United Australia Party, Clive Palmer.” Ad News notes that the messages appeared to be geo-targeted, with messages relevant to the recipient’s state.
Many recipients of the unsolicited messages have reacted with bewilderment, anger and confusion. Some wondered how the politician got his hands on their phone numbers, or whether such unsolicited mass texts were legal.
Apparently, they are.
Okay what dodgy website sold my phone number to Clive Palmer?
— Shaun Bright (@ShaunBright94) January 11, 2019
I want to know how Clive Palmer and his political party got my unlisted phone number so he can spam me via SMS for votes. I'm with Telstra so they have some explaining to do as well, are they selling our phone numbers?@telstracareers @Telstra @clivepalmerm #palmerunitedparty
— VanMan (@1959_Van) January 11, 2019
“Under the Privacy Act all registered political parties are entitled to contact Australians via text,” Palmer told ABC News. Via SBS News, the Australian Communications and Media authority confirms that Palmer’s texts are legally sound. As Palmer’s texts are not attempting to sell anything, are being sent by a registered political party, and identify who has authorised them, they are not prohibited under the 2003 Spam Act.
This means that, in this instance, Palmer is technically correct – the worst kind of correct if you’re trying to make friends and influence people.
— Bruce Moyle (@bmoyle) January 11, 2019
— Chris Mayer (@chrismayer) January 11, 2019
According to ABC News, Palmer intends to continue sending the text messages, apparently viewing the campaign as a rousing success. He claims to have had over 265,000 visits to the United Australia Party’s website in response to the text messages, and to have sent them to 5.6 million phones (though he did not know how this number was calculated).
Compared the the number of complaints he received, this seems like a fairly good hit rate. The Maitland Mercury reports that a United Australia Party spokesperson confirmed they received over 3000 direct complaints about the text messages via email or reply text. Many also appear to be venting about it on social media.
Just got an unsolicited sms from Clive Palmer’s party
Fuck off clive
— Jason Imms (@jasonimms) January 10, 2019
Sadly, there isn’t much you can do as an individual to stop Palmer texting you, as there’s no way to unsubscribe. Speaking to Triple J Hack, Dr Andrews Hughes of the Australian National University states that it’s a low cost method of communication that bypasses filters people may have set up on their email.
If Palmer’s texts are really getting on your nerves, the best you can do is block his number like a needy ex who gets drunk too often. Hopefully, like your ex, he’ll eventually move on.