This Is Why Facebook Thinks You Have 46-Year Friendships

3 minute read

1969 brought us the moon landing, the Beatles’ last album and apparently a whole lot of Facebook friends, according to the social media site.

Thanks to a glitch in the social media site, users of all ages were encouraged to celebrate the 46th anniversary of their friendships on Thursday.

Facebook often alerts users to certain milestones, including the anniversaries of when two people people first friended each other on Facebook. Though the social media site has only been around for 11 years and many of its users are under the age of 46, a software bug in the site’s coding told users on Thursday that they should celebrate their almost half-century of camaraderie with certain friends.

Courtesy of Anthony Cosentino

People took to Twitter and, yes, Facebook to gleefully mock the site’s error:

Facebook released a statement saying their engineers were working to fix the problem “so everyone can ring in 2016 feeling young again.”

So what happened? Though the company didn’t offer any explanation as to how the screwup happened, Microsoft engineer Mark Davis posted his own hypothesis to Facebook:

I was amused as anyone else when Facebook celebrated my 46 years of friendship with someone this morning. Naturally, the inner nerd in me can’t just take at face value–to those of you unaware, the Unix Epoch (aka the date that has an internal value of ‘0’ on a Unix system) is 1/1/1970, which based on time zone adjustments, can become a random hour on 12/31/1969. Which is 46 years ago today.

Now, you might be wondering, so what? Why is it in my Facebook feed? Well, if you click on your “memories” page, you’ll see a subset of you friends listed as having a 46 year old Facebook memory today. Scrolling through my list, it’s the people I’ve been friends with on Facebook for a very long time – chances are, the “friends with since” feature was implemented AFTER I became friends with those people. And as such, it’s stored in the database as ‘0’ rather than the actual date. The developer who wrote the “friends with since” memories algorithm should have added a case ‘WHERE friendsWithSinceDate != ‘0” or something along those lines. But they didn’t so those people appear in today’s query.

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