If you received an inexplicable, out-of-the-blue text message from one of your contacts on Thursday morning (Nov.7), you’re not alone.
Numerous individuals on social media reported that they either received mysterious texts from people they knew, or one of their contacts was sent a puzzling text from them. More than a dozen people reached out to Quartz directly to tell us they’d been affected.
It turns out that during some routine maintenance at Syniverse, a third-party vendor that works with multiple carriers to provide text messaging services, hundreds of thousands of undelivered texts were mistakenly delivered to puzzled recipients. A spokesman from Syniverse told Quartz that 168,149 previously undelivered text messages were accidentally sent to multiple mobile operators’ subscribers.
“We apologize to anyone who was impacted by this occurrence,” William Hurley, chief marketing and product officer at Syniverse, said in a statement provided to Quartz. “While the issue has been resolved, we are in the process of reviewing our internal procedures to ensure this does not happen again, and actively working with our customers’ teams to answer any questions they have.”
Elise Flick, an AT&T user with an iPhone, told Quartz she received a strange text from her cousin, a Sprint user with an Android phone. “Received a text from my cousin at 3:47am that read, ‘K I have everyone’s order. Do you want me to send it to you or place the order here?’ That was something she sent me in February,” Flick wrote in an email to Quartz.
“Crazy, I got a random text last night at 3 am from my Dad saying “I love and support you”, he said he had no recollection of sending it and doesn’t remember ever writing it,” Twitter user Fidelio wrote.
Many of the texts appear to have been sent in the middle of the night, and to users in both the US and Canada. “I got a text message from my wife’s number at 3:30am last night. She did not send it, but it looked like something one of her friends could have sent. When I replied this morning, it went to her phone, but she did not have the message that was sent to me at 3:30 in her phone. I am on Fi using Hangouts, she is on an iphone with imessages,” wrote one user on Reddit.
A spokesperson from Verizon told Quartz that the problem seems to have affected both iOS and Android operating systems, and is happening across all carriers. “We are aware of the reports and are looking into it. This appears to be happening across all carriers and operating systems,” the spokesperson said in an email.
Various networks gave different explanations. Sprint told ABC15 that a “maintenance update occurred to part of the messaging platforms of multiple carriers in the US, including Sprint, which caused some customers to have older text messages resent to their devices.”
Another spokesman from Verizon told Quartz that the problem had nothing to do with its network, and suggested it may have originated with a third party direct text message platform.
A representative from T-Mobile confirmed to Quartz that the problem did not involve its network. “This is not a T-Mobile issue, it’s a third party vendor issue that also affected other networks. We’re aware of this and it is resolved,” T-Mobile said.
US Cellular, another national network said, “This is strange—and we’re looking into it.”
To make matters even more complicated, a number of the errant texts appear to be unsent texts from around Valentine’s Day. The user may have attempted to send the message at that time, but due to loss of service it never delivered.
Hopefully your Valentine’s crush wasn’t left hanging.
Update: Story was updated to include additional comments from Verizon and Syniverse.