“Can you open door?” read a text message received by HuffPost Senior Culture Writer Zeba Blay on Thursday morning. It was from her mother, who was nowhere nearby.
Senior Food and Style Editor Kristen Aiken received a text from her grandmother on Thursday that read “Nice looking boy!” Her grandmother rarely texts and they hadn’t been talking about a boy.
Numerous people woke up to odd text messages like these ― sent from friends and family members, even exes. They seemed to make little sense. The messages appeared disjointed, not relevant to any current or ongoing conversation. To add further mystery to the ordeal, people weren’t just receiving these messages; others were accused of sending them ― despite not having any evidence in their outgoing message logs.
One reader, Debra Achatz, told HuffPost in an email that she received a text from her husband of 50 years that simply read, “Dakota.” He died in June.
Achatz also noted that the message wasn’t like anything her husband had sent her in his lifetime. Though, she said, “he did travel across the country in [January] 2019. I think it’s a longshot, but he could have texted me that he was in North Dakota. Not like him though to drop the ‘North.’”
Reddit and Twitter also exploded with people wondering where these messages came from.
HuffPost spoke to an 18-year-old woman, Esther Young, who said her friend and boyfriend both received messages from her that she did not recall sending.
Young believes the text to her boyfriend is from months ago: “They were definitely from before June, because I have my license now and haven’t asked to be picked up from school since before the summer.”
So, what is the origin of these texts?
The problem appeared to affect a wide range of networks as well as multiple brands of phones. T-Mobile told HuffPost that it was “aware” of the situation, calling it a “third-party vendor issue” that affected multiple networks. T-Mobile also said the problem was “resolved.”
Sprint provided additional details, telling HuffPost that “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.”
Verizon, which owns HuffPost’s parent company Verizon Media, did not provide an explanation, but referred HuffPost to a third-party text message service provider called Syniverse. Syniverse sent HuffPost a statement on Thursday night taking full responsibility for the glitch.
“During an internal maintenance cycle last night, 168,149 previously undelivered text messages were inadvertently sent to multiple mobile operators’ subscribers,” Syniverse said.
Notably, many individuals to whom HuffPost spoke noted that, after they searched their message inboxes, they found they had also received the rogue messages months prior. In interviews, many ― in addition to a smattering of people on social media ― also indicated that the messages were from one specific date: February 14. HuffPost asked Syniverse for more clarity on both of these issues and was told that the company is “not providing any additional details” beyond its initial statement.
The statement went on to include an apology from the company’s chief marketing and product officer, William Hurley, who tried to make amends with “anyone who was impacted by this occurrence” and added that while this “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.”
Maine DJ Cooper Fox corroborated the gist of what Syniverse said in a post he wrote on radio station 92 Moose’s site. Fox heard from U.S. Cellular that it was a “glitch in last night’s (November 6th or early November 7th) update to the cross carrier messaging system” that “caused some people to receive random, early morning, text messages.”
HuffPost has also reached out to AT&T, U.S. Cellular, Apple and Samsung.
This story has been updated with comments from T-Mobile, Sprint and Syniverse, as well as additional interviews with customers who were impacted.