For at least 12 hours on Monday, customers of Rogers and its Fido subsidiary were blocked from sending any text message containing the word “uber” due to what the company termed a “technical glitch” relating to its spam filter. Messages that included the word could be received by phones on the Rogers network, but outgoing texts did not reach their intended recipients.
The issue was first raised by a post on the Canada subreddit at 1:45 a.m. EST, and was still the case when CANADALAND tried it out with multiple phones around 1:30 in the afternoon. By 4:02 p.m. — after the problem had been brought to the company’s attention on Twitter and through conventional customer service channels — a Rogers Communications spokesperson told us in an email that the issued had been resolved.
“Due to a technical glitch,” wrote media relations director Sarah Schmidt, “messages with that word were being filtered out as spam. We’ve resolved the matter so it should not happen again.”
We followed up to ask — at what time did the block come into effect, and at what time was it resolved? Were all customers on the Rogers network across the country affected? What led to that word getting flagged, and how is such a determination typically made? What other words or phrases are similarly filtered? Is Rogers making any changes to reduce the likelihood of a similar situation in the future?
“The word was inadvertently caught in our anti-spam filter due to a technical glitch,” Schmidt reiterated. “When the issue was discovered earlier today, our teams worked as quickly as possible to resolve it.”
She shared a link to a page on the Rogers support site, which states that the company “uses sophisticated anti-spam software” with “advanced threat detection algorithms.” In addition, the page says, Rogers has “a dedicated team who monitor for and detect mobile messaging threats, and create configurations to block current/new issues in real time.”
Asked if this means that blocks are manually implemented by humans, Schmidt clarified that “the page talks about algorithms and the automated nature of our sophisticated system. It is augmented by a dedicated team so that if something is flagged by a customer that was not caught by the filter, it can be added quickly and, conversely, in the extremely rare occurrence like today, a word can be removed.”
The issue came to light a little more than a week following the start of the #DeleteUber campaign to protest the transportation company’s apparent disregard for the taxi workers’ strike at New York’s JFK airport in response to President Donald Trump’s Muslim ban, as well as its CEO’s (since withdrawn) participation in Trump’s economic advisory council.
In Canada, Uber drivers get discounts on their Rogers plans.