Facebook turns a deaf ear to users aged over 99

Filed Under: Facebook

Life goes into a sort of reverse time-warp after we attain the age of 99, if Facebook is to be believed.

The social media behemoth apparently never assumed that a person with three digits worth of living to their credit would sign up to use its service.

Hence, Facebook finds itself apologizing to Marguerite Joseph, a 104-year-old Michigan woman in the United States.

Marguerite Joseph on Facebook

According to Ms. Joseph's granddaughter, Gail Marlow, Facebook keeps shaving 20 years off of Joseph's age.

According to WDIV-TV, when Ms. Marlow tries to input her grandmother's birth year as 1908, Facebook rolls it back to 1928.

The real-life centenarian is legally blind and doesn't hear well, but her granddaughter reads posts from relatives and types in responses to all of the messages Ms. Joseph receives.

Ms. Marlow has been trying to bring the problem to Facebook's attention for years - including directly emailing Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg - but hasn't yet heard back.

Her grandmother turns an auspicious age - 105 - in April, Ms. Marlow says, meaning it's high time to get her age right:

"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."

Facebook logoFollowing press interest, Facebook finally apologized on Wednesday, saying that it's working to fix a problem limiting used of pre-1910 birthdates.


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.

I'm glad to hear Facebook is finally paying attention.

True, Facebook has had much bigger fish to fry. Nothing like 83 million fake accounts, privacy glitches, arguments over facial recognition, and a Java-assisted network breach to distract a company.

But ignoring a reported glitch for years seems a bit excessive.

Talk about hard of hearing. Years of non-responsiveness does little to reassure us that Facebook is listening.

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8 Responses to Facebook turns a deaf ear to users aged over 99

  1. John Baxter · 959 days ago

    Facebook "recently discovered" a problem that has been reported to them by email repeatedly for several years.

    They seem not to be an Inbox Zero company.

  2. Dan Ford · 959 days ago

    I think there is an error : he article states "...when Ms. Marlow tries to input her grandmother's birth year as 1908, Facebook rolls it back to 1928. Hence, Ms. Joseph has been 99 years old for the past two years - at least, in Facebook logic. "

    if Facebook put her date of birth as 1928 that will give an age of 85, not 99 as stated in the article. It's very simple maths!

    • Paul Ducklin · 959 days ago

      Thanks. On Lisa's behalf I've tweaked the confusing bit.

  3. Just Asking · 959 days ago

    Forgive me, but what has this got to do with security, other than the little dig at the end?

    • Paul Ducklin · 957 days ago

      You could argue that since FB insists you supply your birthday for various security purposes (it claims some kind of legal necessity to do as a way to show you are 13 or over, and so it knows when you turn 18), and since FB also insists you tell the truth about your birthday...

      ...then it ought to make it possible to comply :-)

  4. 4caster · 956 days ago

    I agree with ecv. Women should be able to apply the title Miss, Mrs or Ms as they see fit. Likewise my wife and I object to having to describe the other as a "partner". We are not partners: we are spouses.

  5. 4caster · 956 days ago

    It is unwise to show one's date of birth openly on Facebook, because that is a question asked by some financial institutions to establish identity.

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About the author

I've been writing about technology, careers, science and health since 1995. I rose to the lofty heights of Executive Editor for eWEEK, popped out with the 2008 crash, joined the freelancer economy, and am still writing for my beloved peeps at places like Sophos's Naked Security, CIO Mag, ComputerWorld, PC Mag, IT Expert Voice, Software Quality Connection, Time, and the US and British editions of HP's Input/Output. I respond to cash and spicy sites, so don't be shy.