Much of America has received strange, unexplained messages – many of which are awkward or even troubling in their content.

The texts appear to have arrived as a result of a technical issue that meant that a flurry of text messages, originally sent in the spring, arrived in recent hours.

The problem could have affected tens of thousands of people, according to one software company.

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It meant that people were left fearful by cryptic messages or forced into contact with people they would have preferred not to speak to.

What's more, there was no way of knowing that the texts had been delayed, rather than newly sent. It is still not clear how the texts arrived.

Phone companies have blamed each other and offered no further explanations.

Stephanie Bovee, a 28-year-old from Portland, Oregon, woke up at 5am to a text from her sister that said just "omg". She immediately thought something had happened to her newborn nephew at the hospital.

She started calling everyone. Her sister and her sister's husband did not answer. She then woke up her mother. It was three hours before she learned that everything was fine and the text was an odd anomaly.

"Now it's funny," she said. "But out of context, it was not cool."

Ms Bovee discovered that people were getting some of her old texts that failed to go through when her sister and a co-worker both got texts that she had sent in February.

The text her sister received wished her a happy Valentine's Day.

Mobile carriers offered unhelpful explanations for the weird-text phenomenon, which appeared to be widespread, at least according to social media.

A Sprint spokeswoman said it resulted from a "maintenance update" for messaging platforms at multiple US carriers and would not explain further.

T-Mobile called it a "third party vendor issue".

Verizon and AT&T did not answer questions.

Additional reporting by agencies

Social media is an increasingly important battle ground in elections - and home to many questionable claims pumped out by all sides. If social media sites won't investigate the truth of divisive advertising, we will. Please send any political Facebook advertising you receive to digitaldemocracy@independent.co.uk, and we will catalogue and investigate it. Read more here.

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