Facebook Apparently Doesn't Believe Anyone Over 100 Could Use The Service, 104 Year Old Has To Lie

from the for-the-encouragement-of-lying dept

There are plenty of stories about children under the age of 13 having to lie (often with the assistance of their parents) to get on Facebook. This is due to the ridiculous COPPA law that the FTC supports strongly, despite it doing close to nothing to actually “protect children.” But what’s the excuse for people lying at the other end of the scale? A 104 years old woman is forced to be perpetually 99 years old because Facebook apparently refuses ages higher than that. It makes you wonder if they just never thought someone with three digits in their age would use the service and only set up the database to handle two digits. Oddly, rather than defaulting down to 99 years old when Marguerite Joseph tried to enter her birth year of 1908, the system automatically took 20 years off her life and said she was born in 1928. Either way, just as parents are helping children lie about their age at the youth end of the spectrum, in this case, it’s Marguerite’s granddaughter who’s the accomplice here, since Marguerite is legally blind, but still likes to keep in touch with people via Facebook.

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Companies: facebook

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Comments on “Facebook Apparently Doesn't Believe Anyone Over 100 Could Use The Service, 104 Year Old Has To Lie”

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48 Comments
PaulT (profile) says:

Meh, this just sounds like an edge case scenario where an incorrect assumption was made when programming the site, and the number of users likely to be affected is probably not high enough for them to worry too much about fixing it. They probably should fix it, but it’s a far cry from the legal and other reasons why the limits exist on the other end of the scale.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re:

As if it wasn’t bad enough that lack of foresight saw (pun intended) people unable to insert four digits into their dates back at the turn of the millennium, it’s been replicated

That is unlikely. They are not going to store the user’s age since that changes, but her birthdate. It’s much more likely they decided as an error-checking measure that any age over 99 must be a mistake. It’s bad design rather than bad coding. That distinction may seem like splitting hairs but not to a programmer. ๐Ÿ™‚

out_of_the_blue says:

This is more important than Facebook dodging taxes?

I’m still amazed at how little actual economics you mention here. — Heck, you won’t even do Fantasy Economics of what changes you wish to promote. (Though you’ve said you do Fantasy Football). — It’s quite odd that you almost never write about anything in your own (supposed) field, one of the points that continue to intrigue me — especially when goes for years of little stories that like this one, apply only to decimal point anomalies while ignoring everyday items many orders of magnitude more important.

Take a loopy tour of Techdirt.com! You always end up at same place!
http://techdirt.com/
Mike claims to have a college degree in economics, don’t ya know?

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: This is more important than Facebook dodging taxes?

When you haven’t got anything to say about what’s being written, whine about what’s not being written. That way, you don’t even have to concede anything and compete the “I’m a complete asshole” look that you’ve worked so hard to cultivate here!

Hey, ootb, where’s your blog where you’re reporting this story? I’d like to read your quality journalism since Mike isn’t writing it yet?

Mr. Applegate says:

Re: This is more important than Facebook dodging taxes?

Hmmm, so you are expecting articles here only about economics?

Maybe you should try economicdirt.com.

This is “TechDirt” which focuses on technology and how that impacts people. Sure, sometimes technology does have an economic impact, but not always.

Facebook uses a technology, and in this case the impact to the economy is non-existent, so why would this article focus on economics?

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: This is more important than Facebook dodging taxes?

He’s presumably referring to this non-story:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/timworstall/2013/02/18/facebook-doesnt-pay-taxes-on-its-profits-so-what/

I’m not sure why he demands that Mike debunk it for him since it’s already been debunked elsewhere, but I assume the facts have been filtered out with whatever system he’s using that filters out his civility, sanity and common sense.

Suzanne Lainson (profile) says:

Re: Why give Facebook your real age anyway?

Just saw this. How much info do you really want to give Facebook?

Here?s what Facebook Graph Search is doing next | VentureBeat: “Once Facebook dumps all the Open Graph data into the mix ? way beyond what pages you like, including what you bought, sites you?ve commented on, your online game scores, etc. ? the computations get even more complex, the filters for relevance even more clever.”

DogBreath says:

I and others will rue the day...

when say, something happens like PayPal buying up Facebook or vise versa (Google bought Youtube, and are combining accounts). They compare data on both accounts and figure out that your real identity & age on one site does not correspond to your age on the other site.

Rather than figure out a fix for it, they will probably decide you are a liar/scam artist/flim flammer/etc, and shut down both your accounts (locking up any money you had in your PayPal account, and your online identity with Facebook) with no recourse, until you can prove you were born in 1908 and 1928.

Suzanne Lainson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: I and others will rue the day...

Unless one of them is PayPal or the like…

If the PayPal user is linking to a legitimate bank or credit card and there have been no problems and the user has been using PayPal, I doubt that PayPal is going to delete the user. (eBay has had some sketchy people/companies selling stuff there, so I don’t think eBay goes out of its way to delete people.)

Now, a company like Facebook could start deleting people if their birthdates don’t match up, but I suspect that those who get deleted will figure it is time to take a break from Facebook anyway.

These companies don’t want to delete people unless there’s a real problem for the companies. I doubt that providing an incorrect birth date (unless you are a minor) is actually much of a problem for Facebook. Of course, they want as much accurate info as possible to sell your data, but that’s precisely why people don’t always provide it. Facebook is going to have to figure out that privacy balance.

Most websites (unless they are liquor sites) don’t require you to provide birth dates.

The Old Man in The Sea says:

Re: I and others will rue the day...

Most of us have been given names that actually mean something in one language or another. Once you expand you name fully, you then have a variety of options as to what you can call yourself legitimately.

For example, Forrest Hill, Forrest Small, Forrest Strong are all variations on one name. Can you guess it?

Or you could just use another language variation on a name, such as John, Ian, Iain, Sean, Shawn, Jan, Yani, Jack.

How on earth and why on earth would they then make the assumption that any two names belong to the same person. if you do a web search for me, there are at least six of us to be found around the world, funnily enough, a number of those are in the same field of endeavour.

Unless there is other information such as addresses or bank accounts or other identifiers used, you cannot make an assumption programmatically that two individuals are in fact the same person.

Suzanne Lainson (profile) says:

Re: Re: I and others will rue the day...

Unless there is other information such as addresses or bank accounts or other identifiers used, you cannot make an assumption programmatically that two individuals are in fact the same person.

I assume that many of these tracking companies do, in fact, know who they are following and can figure out one person from another. But again, I don’t think they are actually going to be blocking people who don’t give them the correct birth date unless there is a very specific reason to supply it. And if they do start blocking people because people try to hide personal info about themselves from companies like Facebook, then the privacy wars are going to get kicked up a notch or two.

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