Telecoms are sneaking ‘stay home’ messages onto customers’ smartphones

Telecoms are sneaking ‘stay home’ messages onto customers’ smartphones

Some mobile operators, including Vodafone and Orange SA, have started to insert public health suggestions related to the coronavirus to stay inside on customers’ smartphones in recent days, using the small text extract that generally accompanies connection signal symbols at the top left of a phone screen.

According to social media consultant Matt Navarra, who started publish and retweet examples on his Twitter account Tuesday afternoon, messages appear on the phones of customers in Germany, courtesy of Vodafone, a British telecommunications company.

According to a wave of responses to Navarra’s initial tweet, similar messages are also appearing worldwide. Users responded with screenshots of their own showing various versions of “stay at home” in a number of different languages.

This includes Romania (“Stamacasa”); Peru (“YoMeQuedoEnCasa”), Turkey (“EvdeKal”) and Indonesia (“DiRumahAja”). And people in Belgium, France, India and Nigeria would have seen English versions of the sentence or versions in a mother tongue, according to telecommunications.

The messages appear to appear in certain markets only when you turn off Wi-Fi, as Nevarra said in Germany. But it is not always a requirement to see the message, as you can see in the example from Peru below:

It is not clear whether this is a concerted effort by several telecoms, or rather one company has decided to take the lead and others have followed suit. But it’s an unprecedented use of the small but vital space screens that telecoms control to truly promote a public health benefit that could save lives in the weeks and months to come.



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