The company says the notification wasn’t caused by a data breach.
If you’ve received a cryptic notification from the Starbucks app, you’re not alone — dozens of people say they got a message reading “Hello test1 from seank” from the coffee app on Tuesday.
It’s unclear how many people the notification went out to. Twitter is flooded with screenshots of it, with posts often tagging the official Starbucks account asking what’s going on. However, every single one I saw showed an iOS notification, so it’s possible Android users were spared Sean K’s greeting. So far, the company hasn’t responded to any of the reports or put out a statement about what’s going on. We’ve also reached out for comment and will let you know if we hear back.
Sometimes, errant notifications are a sign that something has gone deeply wrong with a company’s cybersecurity. Last year, a hacker sent out an Apple News notification from Fast Company containing an obscene 4chan reference. They also compromised actual parts of Fast Company’s site itself, and the publisher ended up going offline for over a week as it patched up the mess.
Thankfully, that doesn’t seem to be the case here. “Earlier today, some customers received a test notification from the Starbucks app in error. This was not caused by a data breach,” Erin Shane Riley, a spokesperson for the company, told The Verge. It’s not that uncommon for test notifications to accidentally go out to the public, even at tech-savvy places like The Verge. You may remember the time when people in Hawaii got a screaming alert about an inbound missile because someone selected the “Live” option instead of the “Test” one — though, in comparison, the Starbucks example is mildly amusing, instead of existentially terrifying.
If it actually was Sean K who accidentally sent the notification to production instead of test devices, I’d imagine they’ll be getting some grande grief about this from their co-workers for a long time to come. The good news is that they’re also going to temporarily be a legend on the internet, at least among the crowd that has Starbucks notifications turned on.
Now, we just need to come up with a drink that we all agree to call the SeanK Special. Personally, I’m voting for a Matcha Frappuccino with java chips and three pumps of test1.
Update March 28th, 3:32PM ET: Added confirmation from Starbucks that the notification wasn’t caused by a data breach.