Telecoms sneaking in ‘stay home’ messages on smartphones

Some mobile phone operators, like Vodafone and Orange S.A., have started sneaking in coronavirus-related public health messages asking customers to stay indoors. Spotted on smartphones in certain countries, this is a small snippet that’s placed right next to the connection signal symbol on the top left of the phone screen.

The first one was spotted by social media consultant Matt Navarra who posted examples on his Twitter account. According to Navarra’s tweet, these messages started appearing on phones in Germany that were using Vodafone connections.  

Navarra’s tweet saw a whole bunch of replies that showed similar messages showing up all over the world. Most people replied with screenshots that showed various versions of the ‘stay home’ message in various languages.

These included Romania (“Stamacasa”); Peru (“YoMeQuedoEnCasa”), Turkey (“EvdeKal”), and Indonesia (“DiRumahAja”). People in Belgium, France and Nigeria have also reportedly seen either the English versions of the phrase or in their native language, depending on the telecom service provider.

This message, in some places, shows up only when you switch off WiFi, like it happened for Germany, but is some others you can see it even with WiFi being on, like in Peru:  

According to reports, these messages have also been spotted in India but we have not seen any yet. Earlier, telecom companies in the country had run a PSA before every call to spread awareness about covid-19.

It’s not known if this message is a consolidated effort taken by all telecom service providers or if one company started it and others followed. However, it is a great use of this small, but vital, screen space that telecoms do have control over to promote public health.

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