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‘ItsNotOk’ — Truecaller issues newspaper & TV ads, makes new push for ‘women’s safety’ campaign

Titled '#ItsNotOk', the Truecaller campaign was publicised with large ads across several Indian newspapers Wednesday and also appeared on TV channels.

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New Delhi: Caller ID and spam-blocking app Truecaller has launched a print and outdoor publicity campaign — its first in any country — to encourage more women to report crimes like sexual harassment via calls and texts.

Titled “#ItsNotOk”, the campaign was publicised with large ads across several Indian newspapers Wednesday and also appeared on TV channels. It has also been plastered at signboards across bus stands in central Delhi, and at the Indira Gandhi International Airport.

The ads are splashed with statements like, “If you send nudes, I will expose you”, “You may have my number, but you don’t have my consent”, and “Stop calling me baby. But first, stop calling me”.

One of the ads issued in newspapers | Credit: Truecaller
One of the ads published in newspapers | Credit: Truecaller

At the IGI Airport in Delhi | Credit: Truecaller
At the IGI Airport in Delhi | Credit: Truecaller

According to Truecaller, a Swedish company set up in 2009, India is the app’s biggest market. 

Speaking to ThePrint, Truecaller Director of Marketing Manan Shah said women’s safety is an issue they have been trying to address through online campaigns for the past four years. 

The ads are not a publicity gimmick, he added. 

“We’ve been talking about this initiative for over 4 years now. Marketing gimmicks don’t last that long…” he said, but acknowledged that gaining users is a positive side-effect of the campaign.

“For about four years now, Truecaller has been working on women safety and raising awareness about how Truecaller can be used to identify and block harassers. However, this is the first outdoor and newspaper campaign Truecaller has done,” he added. 

“Previously it was mostly online campaigns but the reach of the campaign wasn’t as widespread as the offline campaign. Truecaller decided to take the campaign to the masses to increase reach so that more women can know that Truecaller can be used to avoid communications from harassers, but, more importantly, to encourage them to report such crimes to the authorities so that they can take appropriate action,” he added.

Also Read: 78% Indians did not report sexual harassment at workplace when they faced it: Survey

Tackling inappropriate calls & texts

Truecaller has approximately 19.5 crore active users in India, according to data shared by the app. Of this, around 40 per cent — or 7.8 crore — are estimated to be women.

India is where Truecaller has the most number of employees (140 employees in India), and also where most of its revenue comes from, the app said. Truecaller earns money through ads and premium, paid versions of the app.

The ad campaign released Wednesday cites a Truecaller survey held between November 2019 and February 2020 that reportedly found 76 per cent of sexual or inappropriate calls and messages that women receive in India are from unknown people.

The survey also claims that 1 out of every 5 women in India receives sexual and inappropriate calls or SMSes. 

While 85 per cent of the women who receive such calls and texts block the number, only 12 per cent report it to the authorities, it states.

Truecaller helps women block harassers because the app provides a caller’s name, location and other details — like how many calls the number has made in the last 60 days, and whether the phone number has been flagged as spam by other Truecaller users.

Shah said “a happy side-effect of more women using the features of Truecaller to identify spammers is that Truecaller app gets more usage”. However, he added that it is “not the main concern here”. 

“Truecaller’s priority has always been on making communication safer and more efficient,” he said.

Truecaller caller identification, he claimed, “is extremely accurate”. 

“On Android, the accuracy of caller ID is about 95 per cent. On iOS, because of how Apple is more restrictive in what permission and info third party apps can access, a feature called Call Alerts can be used to receive a caller alert a few seconds before the call comes in,” he said. “However, on Apple, live caller ID cannot work in real time since Apple does not allow this.”

Also Read: There’s only one way to tackle India’s sexual violence epidemic – sex education


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