One of them — NoMoRobo — has spent this election season hanging up on more than 50,000 political robocalls for the 160,000 Voice-Over-Internet-Protocol phone users who signed up for their free service.
This advance in technology means we can also tell how many robocalls certain groups are responsible for, relative to others (at least for this decent-sized chunk of Americans, which isn't entirely representative of the broader country, but still instructive).
The biggest offender was the Presidential Coalition, a 527 group affiliated with the conservative non-profit Citizens United. NoMoRobo blocked 34,601 calls sent to 2,338 users from Sept. 1 to Oct. 30 from this group. NoMoRobo blocked 10 times more calls from the Presidential Coalition, for instance, than it did from the National Rifle Association, which was in second place with 3,092 calls blocked.
Here are the top/bottom 10:
Again: This is not a scientific survey. But it is interesting.
Aaron Foss started NoMoRobo last October, after winning the Federal Trade Commission's Robocall Challenge. Non-profits and political campaigns are exempt from the Do Not Call Registry, and the commission was looking for someone to find another way Americans could block the calls. Foss's solution: By having computers receive all their users' calls simultaneously. If it's a number that's been blacklisted, the computer hangs up the call.
He has been listening to a lot of political robocalls lately, posting the best on NoMoRobo's SoundCloud. His favorite is one from the well-known conservative group Crossroads GPS — which sent 1,518 calls to NoMoRobo users — promoting Iowa Senate candidate Joni Ernst. The robot attempts to build rapport with the person (actually a computer) and it goes about as you would expect.
If you must ... robocall people ... Crossroads GPS ... don't use their name. It ... sounds creepy.
"That one was really funny," says Foss. "Does that actually work on anybody?"
Foss is especially excited to crunch all the data he has collected after the election is over. NoMoRobo has been able to pinpoint which campaigns prefer weekends, and which prefer weeknights, for example.
"Mondays are a big day for Crossroads," he says. "I don't understand why." But he hopes to soon.
Robocalls have dropped this year, even if you don't factor in the concerted efforts to ignore them. A Pew Research Center study released this week showed that 41 percent of registered voters have received a pre-recorded call this year. In 2010, 55 percent of voters had received a robocall during the same time period.
A big reason is that more people are ditching their landlines; Federal Communication Commission's rules prohibiting robocalls to wireless phones are stronger than those for landlines. And it shows: Forty-one percent of the respondents Pew interviewed on a cellphone had received a robocall in 2010. In 2014, just only 29 percent have.