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Inside the Valentine’s Day Text Message Mystery


Allison Candler, an attorney in Atlanta, was getting ready for work when her husband, Clark, asked, “Why did you text me ‘Am I gonna get sued for sexual harassment?’ at 4:45 in the morning?”

“Of course, I was fairly shocked,” said Ms. Candler, who had no memory of asking that question, and whose phone showed no evidence she had. “I sat down then and there and changed all of my passwords, thinking maybe my iCloud account had been hacked.”

Later that day, she said, after her husband alerted her to the widespread phantom text confusion spreading online, “I thought, ‘Did I actually send that text?’” By this point, large numbers of people had deduced that the texts sent from their phones were ones they had, in fact, tried to send — many of them on Feb. 14 — but that had, without their knowledge, taken months to deliver. This realization stirred Ms. Candler into what she described as a “paranoid frenzy.” She began asking “everyone I had seen if they’d gotten a weird text from me in the middle of the night,” she said.

A search of her conversation history eventually revealed the subject of her text: a long-forgotten email fiasco. While attempting to thank a friend for buying lunch, she had accidentally sent a heart emoji to a male co-worker, told him he was “the best,” and wished him “Happy Valentine’s Day!”

At the time, Ms. Candler said, her note to her husband would have been “clearly a joke” and “totally unremarkable” — in the middle of the night, three-quarters of a year later, however, it was “slightly alarming.” (Mr. Candler said that when he found the message Thursday morning, he assumed his wife had woken up confused, in the midst of a nightmare, and texted him.)


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