Understanding SHAFT and Compliance

Understanding content regulations for SMS outbound messaging is a key component to maintaining compliance. One key aspect of content regulation revolves around the acronym SHAFT, which stands for Sex, Hate, Alcohol, Firearms, and Tobacco. 

SHAFT: What It Means

SHAFT serves as a guideline for content categories that are typically not approved for SMS communication. Each element within SHAFT presents unique challenges and considerations for outbound text messaging:

S: This encompasses anything overtly sexual or inappropriate in nature. Communicators must be cautious not to include content that could be deemed offensive or inappropriate.

H: Hate speech, discriminatory language, and the promotion of violence fall under this category. Avoid any content that fosters discrimination or incites violence.

A: Content related to alcohol, including beer, wine, spirits, and related products, requires careful handling. Age-gating may be necessary for alcohol brands in certain countries to ensure compliance with legal regulations.

F: Firearms, explosives, firearm accessories, and depictions of violence are strictly regulated. Steer clear of promoting or depicting firearms and related items in SMS campaigns.

T: This includes vaping products, tobacco paraphernalia, Cannabis/CBD, and related items. Marketers should avoid promoting tobacco products in SMS messages to comply with regulations and promote responsible messaging.

Compliance and Best Practices

Ensuring compliance with SHAFT regulations is crucial when sending outbound SMS through CTM. To maintain trust with carriers and customers, everyone must adhere to legal requirements. 3 Key topics include:

  1. Age-Gating for Alcohol Brands: In specific countries, age-gating is permitted for alcohol brands to verify the age of recipients before sending promotional messages.
  2. Prohibited Content: Communicators must steer clear of prohibited content, including hate speech, depictions of violence, and anything overtly sexual or inappropriate.

Regulatory Audits: Regulatory bodies, such as the Cellular Telephone Industries Association, known as CTIA, conduct audits to ensure compliance with content guidelines. The CTIA conducts audits on businesses engaged in S.H.A.F.T. text marketing. Key audit criteria include handling federally illegal or legal S.H.A.F.T. content, addressing flagged content (hateful, violent), responding to consumer commands like 'STOP' and 'HELP', and displaying program or product names correctly. Age-gating, a tech-driven method, verifies a user's age online before granting access to restricted content, whereas age restrictions are legally enforced at points of sale. In the United States, industries like alcohol, firearms, and sweepstakes require age-gating for compliance. Everyone should be prepared to address any violations identified during these audits. 

  1. Industry-Specific Regulations: Certain industries, such as alcohol and firearms, have additional regulations that marketers must navigate to remain compliant. Age-gating and careful content screening are essential in these sectors.

Navigating content regulations, such as those outlined by SHAFT, is essential for outbound text messages to maintain compliance. Communicators can ensure their SMS campaigns are effective, responsible, and compliant with legal regulations by following these guidelines. Compliance not only develops trust with consumers but also mitigates the risk of legal repercussions, allowing businesses to focus on delivering valuable messages to their audience.

In addition, T-Mobile has its own version of SHAFT and compliance for sending text messages:


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