Dear AHL: Get Your App Shit Together Because You're Freaking Us Out

from the crossing-lines dept

There are many, many ways for big companies’ attempts to use social media or smart apps to go horribly wrong. Usually these happenings involve either hacked into accounts repurposed for lulz, rogue employees having a bit too much to drink on beer Friday and then going off, or companies doing something stupid and then blaming either of the previous for it.

And then there’s the American Hockey League’s mobile app, which for some reason alerted users that Stewart Zimmel apparently both owes someone $6k and threatens to punch people in the throat.

The American Hockey League’s long-awaited schedule announcement for the 2019–20 season hit a minor road block on Wednesday, when the code behind the official app of the NHL’s top minor league became self-aware and demanded money from Stewart Zimmel. At least, that’s one way to interpret these confusing but very real screenshots of push notifications sent to users today, which accused Zimmel of threatening to punch someone named Ian Bowman in the throat “nemours times” (sic).

It wasn’t just this one Twitter user, either. Others stared quizzically at their phones, wondering why Stewart Zimmel won’t just pay back what he owes, not to mention why he would go around throat-punching people. Far from this being some one-off thing, the app later began displaying screenshots of communications in which someone named Zimmel kinda does threaten to punch someone in the throat. And, because the internet is a wonderful place, some people began trying to figure this mystery out.

Stewart Zimmel, for those wondering, is the COO of a company called HockeyTech, according to his LinkedIn. HockeyTech bought the company Zimmel previously worked for, Buzzer Apps, in 2018. Bowman, according to an older fragment of the Buzzer Apps LinkedIn page that’s archived on Google, used to work for the company too. It seems safe to assume that he worked on the AHL app—or at least knew how to hack it—and also that he feels he’s owed $6,000 from Zimmel.

The AHL has since gotten its app back under control, meaning that it is no longer sending users screenshots of threats of violence… so that’s good. On the other hand, it really shouldn’t be that hard to keep this kind of stuff from happening. And if you’re going to launch an app that can push notifications to the public’s phones, it’s probably best to have some checks in place to keep this sort of thing from happening.

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Companies: ahl

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