In True Modern Love Style, The Mystery Of The Valentine’s “Ghost Texts” Is Finally Solved

Photographed by Lauren Maccabbee.
Talk about missed connections. 
Earlier this week, hundreds of people received seemingly random text messages, out of context and out of the blue, addressed from friends, family, and loved ones. The first part of the mystery was solved pretty quickly: users sussed out that the messages were actually late texts from nearly nine months ago — many from Valentine’s Day. 
More than 168,000 “ghost texts” were sent across carriers including T-Mobile, Sprint, AT&T, and Verizon, CNBC reports. Third-party provider Syniverse, which works with a slate of carriers, eventually cleared up the mystery: a Syniverse server that went down on February 14 was brought back online on Wednesday, sending out thousands of previously undelivered messages to unsuspecting customers. 
Not surprisingly, people were shocked about the messages — and, being Valentine’s Day, the timing was even more awkward for some.
Reactions ranged from amusement to confusion to outright distress. The delay didn’t just cause missed dates and awkward conversations — some people got messages from loved ones they hadn’t seen or heard from in months, or even from people who have died since Valentine’s Day, The Verge reports.
The incident sheds further light on the different steps our data takes to get from point A to B, and how sometimes it gets sidetracked to point C without us even realizing it. Your carrier, be it a big name or a smaller shop, likely works with at least one of hundreds of companies like Syniverse to deliver texts, payments, and other data across mobile networks, according to CNBC. Think of them as digital post offices, receiving, packaging, and shipping your messages — and think of this server outage as a mail tub that was left behind, never making it out to your mailbox. Syniverse says it usually only keeps undelivered texts for 24 to 72 hours as it attempts to send them out before deleting the data, but the offline server inadvertently allowed the company to retain and, months later, send the messages.
Related Content:

More from Tech

R29 Original Series