Text messages on Valentine's Day arrived eight months late on Wednesday for more than 168,000 people due to a faulty server at a company operating as a third-party big telecom data server, the supplier said Thursday.
The incident caused confusion. on Twitter irritation from someone who was awakened late at night by erroneous messages and sadness from someone who said they received texts from their deceased loved ones.
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The event gives consumers a quick glimpse into the expansive world of third-party companies that actually pack, send, simplify and otherwise organize billions of text messages and mobile payments sent through more well-known mobile companies on a daily basis.
The third-party provider, Syniverse, is one of many companies that make up the complex network of intermediaries in the mobile operator's world. The company said a server went offline on February 1
The company said in a statement that it usually retains messages for only 24 to 72 hours, a retention policy that was inadvertently bypassed by the downed server.
The company also provides security services for its telecom clients. Users of most major US mobile operators reported being affected by the incident.
Syniverse competes with hundreds of other third party data "facilitators" that most consumers haven't heard of – names like Subex, Tyntec, Starhome Mach, OnMobile and ImIMobile, among many others.
Some of these companies work with cloud providers, others specialize in services that ensure that data is transmitted in areas without network coverage. All of them touch consumer data in one way or another and store them frequently, a process that can lead to a rare occurrence like Wednesday's volley of ghost texts.