The Mysterious Case of the Random SMS Tweets

By  |  Wednesday, December 9, 2009 at 1:52 am

It started last Thursday. My iPhone vibrated, and I checked it and saw that I’d just received a tweet via SMS–even though I have Twitter set up so there’s not a single soul whose tweets are delivered to my phone. (I do get direct messages sent via SMS, but this wasn’t a DM, nor did it mention me…or seem to be addressed to me in any way.)

I didn’t think much of it. But then it happened again. And again. At an increasing rate, even–in the past 24 hours, I’ve received a dozen random mystery tweets. They all seem to be from people I’m following, but other than that, I detect no pattern.

When you think Twitter’s behaving weirdly, there’s an easy way to check if you’re right: Ask Twitter. I did, and found a surging sea of confused people wondering why they were getting random tweets via SMS.

San Francisco, we have a problem.

So far, I’ve found plenty of people noticing something odd is going on, but no theories about an explanation: There’s no reference to the situation on the Twitter blog or the Twitter status page, or in the Twitter forums.

I remain mystified, but I’ve contacted Twitter to see if anyone there can tell us what’s going on. If you have any hard knowledge or theories, please chime in…



4 Comments For This Post

  1. Curt Moss Says:

    Yes! This has been happening to me over the past two weeks, too. I realized, too, that it must be sending the tweets via SMS even thought I’m not set to receive ANYONE’s updates via SMS either. Thanks for taking this issue to Twitter.

  2. TheVeganOne Says:

    Perhaps we need a hashtag for this problem. How about #smsprob ?
    Niz xxx

  3. Amy Says:

    I’ve had that problem myself but what I did is I went to (via web on Twitter) “Settings”, then “Mobile”, select “Direct Message” for Device Update, then click “Save”. I did this a few days ago and haven’t had that problem since then.

    What I’ve noticed that when I went to mobile settings that it was changed. I don’t know if it was during the latest “Fail Whale” attack” or when they were adding new features (Lists, RT Button, etc.) but go to your mobile settings and make sure that you have “Direct Message” as your device update…if not, change it.

  4. Andrea Says:

    I’m having the same problem. And I get charged for each txt msg I receive, so I really do not appreciate receiving random tweets and non-sequiturs — those are the worst! At least when I get an actual, readable msg I don’t feel cheated.

    I suspect they’re experimenting with features again. Let’s hope something useful comes of it.