Despite the proliferation of instant messaging services, our mobile-centric culture is still dependent on good old text messages. But what if those text messages never reached their recipients or only months after they made any sense? That’s the rather strange situation that many in the US just experienced when Valentine’s messages they sent months ago only reached their intended targets in November in the middle of the night.
The lucky ones woke up to a rather strange experience of receiving loving messages dated Wednesday that were, in fact, sent on February 14, 2019. Others who don’t mute their phones might have been woken up in the middle of the night to the perplexing message.
It may sound hilarious but it was quite the opposite for some people. Imagine receiving a Valentine’s message from someone you broke up some time after February. Or the horror-like experience of receiving such a message in the dead of the night from someone who passed away just months ago. Or the very real horror of your boss asking why you would send a message in the middle of the night.
Understandably, hundreds if not thousands of people were not amused and all that the US carriers could do is offer a canned apology and a terse explanation. All of the four major carriers were affected by what they point out was a bug caused by upgrading their systems. An estimated 168,149 messages were sent out due to this internal maintenance cycle error.
Fortunately, no lasting harm ensued, or at least none that have been reported yet. The incident does highlight how something so simple as ill-timed messages could have such a negative impact and yet can be easily overlooked. Carriers and tech companies definitely need to be more mindful of such potential problems, especially as they upgrade their systems towards new technologies like the newly-announced CCMS.