Sometime in the middle of the night of November 7, people across all mobile carriers and devices in the United States started receiving unexpected text messages. The messages included expressions of love and affection and date requests. The problem is that the messages weren't sent on November 7 — they were sent on Valentine's Day, nearly nine months earlier. The recipients of the messages and the people who initially sent them were completely perplexed by the situation.
Per posts on social media, the messages received overnight were never sent or received on February 14, when they were initially supposed to be delivered. Users did nothing to cause the messages to be sent suddenly, and the issue didn't discriminate: subscribers to T-Mobile, Sprint, AT&T and Verizon have all reportedly dealt with the issue, and it seems to be affecting both iPhone and Android users.
Needless to say, the bizarre situation seems to have caused some awkward moments for people. A lot can change in nine months, including the status of a relationship. People who experienced the strange glitch reported getting messages from exes who they hadn't heard from in some time. Others claimed that they missed out on Valentine's Day dates because of the failed messages.
Mic reached out to all major carriers in the United States regarding the issue. T-Mobile said that it is not an issue on its end, but rather the result of a "third party vendor issue that also affected other networks." A spokesperson for Sprint confirms this. The spokesperson tells Mic, "Last evening, a maintenance update occurred to part of the messaging platforms of multiple carriers in the U.S., including Sprint, which caused some customers to have older text messages sent to their devices." Both companies confirmed that the situation has been resolved.
Verizon did not directly comment on the situation, but noted that the issue stemmed from third-party text message service provider Syniverse. According to Verizon, the company provides "direct text message service platforms to several large US wireless carriers, though not to Verizon."
Syniverse is one of those companies that exists behind the scenes that most people never know they are interacting with. One of the company's primary service offerings is a cross-carrier messaging infrastructure that is utilized by a number of major carriers. According to the company's website, it is responsible for processing more than 740 billion messages per year, connecting conversations between more than seven billion devices around the world. Syniverse is credited with playing a significant role in establishing SMS texting capabilities application-to-person messaging that allows companies to communicate via text with people — think banking notifications, appointment reminders or two-factor authentication messages. It is also playing a role in the rollout of RCS messaging, which is believed to be the new protocol that will replace SMS messaging. RCS will support features that are standard in many messaging apps but not available from standard SMS text messages, such as read receipts and improved media sharing for audio, video and images.
Syniverse explains to Mic that an internal maintenance cycle resulted in 168,149 previously undelivered text messages to be inadvertently sent. The company confirmed the issue affected multiple mobile operators. “We apologize to anyone who was impacted by this occurrence,” William Hurley, the chief marketing and product officer at Syniverse said in a statement. “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.”
Why those messages weren't delivered in the first place is unclear — and the situation raises questions about just how long text messages are being stored on company servers. Making the situation all the more sketchy is the fact that the data appears to have been handled by a third-party company that most people are likely unaware has a hand in handling their text messages. Worst of all, there was surely some extremely thirsty dude out there who took this opportunity to try to rekindle a relationship with a poor, innocent person who thought they had heard the last of him months ago.