The messages, from mysterious email addresses, attack the president on Medicare, abortion, and more.
Updated, 11:22 p.m.
With the worst of Hurricane Sandy past, many D.C.-area residents have been hearing from far-flung friends checking in to make sure they're fine. But some denizens of Washington and the surrounding area have been getting unsolicited texts that don't come from old friends. On Twitter Tuesday night, political operatives and journalists reported receiving spam texts attacking President Obama. The texts come not from phone numbers but from email addresses, most with mysterious domains: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com. According to Whois.com, which allows searches of domain-name owners, those domains were all registered in February, but the registrant's name is blocked.
That makes it tough to figure out where the texts are coming from. But here's a sample of what they're saying. New York Times reporter Jonathan Weisman notes that his teen daughter received one (he was not happy about it):
Txt to my 13-yr-old daughter: "Obama denies protection to babies who survive abortions. Obama is just wrong" from firstname.lastname@example.org— Jonathan Weisman (@jonathanweisman) October 31, 2012
From Washington City Paper's Mike Madden:
Just got this random anti-Obama text message from "email@example.com": twitter.com/mikemadden/sta...— Mike Madden (@mikemadden) October 31, 2012
The Washington Post's Mike DeBonis:
So these seem to be going around tonight... twitter.com/mikedebonis/st...— Mike DeBonis (@mikedebonis) October 31, 2012
As CNN's Jim Spellman discovered, you can't even reply to the mysterious messages:
As the Los Angeles Times explained in September, whoever is sending the texts is exploiting a legal loophole. It's illegal to send unsolicited, automated texts, but it is apparently within the bounds of the law to send them as emails. That's why the sender appears as an email, even though recipients view them as texts. Adding insult to injury, recipients are charged for the messages just like regular texts. (Although all of these shots are iPhones, at least one Android user has received the texts as well.)