Thursday, February 21, 2013

A Facebook bug means world's oldest Facebook user aced out of title

Facebook is aware of its oldest users. They even went to visit the network's oldest registered user. Unfortunately, as revealed on Thursday, they went to visit the wrong person.

In August of last year, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his sister Sheryl went to visit Florence Detlor, a then 101-year-old woman who was proclaimed Facebook's oldest registered user. What was discovered on Thursday is that there is a 104-year-old woman on Facebook. Even back in August she would have been older than Florence Detler. However, due to what seems to be a Facebook bug, she has been forced to lie about her age, probably leading to the mistake.

It's true that many people will lie about their age for vanity or other personal reasons. In the case of Marguerite Joseph, from Grosse Pointe Shores, Mich., who was born on April 19, 1908, Facebook thinks she is 99 years old -- and has for the past two years -- because she says the site won't allow an age of greater than 99 years. Admittedly, this makes one wonder how Detlor could enter 101 as her age, but ignoring that, it's a problem for Joseph.

To confirm Joseph's account, we tried to reproduce the problem ourselves. When trying to select Joseph's birth year of 1908, we received an "unknown error."

Her granddaughter, Gail Marlow, who because of Joseph's advanced age helps her write and read posts, said:
Every time I tried to change the settings to the right year, Facebook always came back with an unknown error message and would send us right back to a year she wasn’t born in. I would love to see her real age on Facebook, I mean in April she’s going to be 105. It’s special.
Marlow said she has tried to contact Facebook about the issue.

Joseph's Facebook About page says:
I was actually born on April 19, 1908 which makes me 102 years old but Facebook wouldn't let me enter in a date that goes back that far. I am a native of Coniston, Ontario and was married to John Joseph Sr. who passed away in 2000. I have 5 Children-Shirley Marlow, John Jr., Roger, Francis and Peter, who died of leukemia. I have 12 Grandchildren and several Great Grandchildren. I am a wealth of knowledge and history and love to tell my stories. You can read the article that was written about me and my 100th Birthday at:

P.S. Due to my eyesight, my Granddaughter Gail is in charge of all my postings and responses. She reads me my public and private messages regularly.
Due to the publicity, Facebook has started to listen to Marlow -- or rather, the media. The company released the following statement:
We've recently discovered an issue whereby some Facebook users may be unable to enter a birthday before 1910. We are working on a fix for this and we apologize for the inconvenience.
The word "some" probably explains how Detlor entered her age.

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