Facebook Hoax Makes Its Rounds

    January 15, 2012
    Mike Tuttle
    Comments are off for this post.

An interesting little hoax is making the rounds on Facebook this morning. According to the viral message, every phone (some versions say SIM card) has a unique name. And, if you enter a particular phrase in a Facebook comment, you can see your phone’s name.

Stick with me, this gets better.

The message reads like this:

Type the last three digits of your number in the comment box below as follows:


Then, REMOVE THE STAR and then press enter. You will see your phone’s “name”.

And, whaddaya know, it works. Well, it spits out a name. Mine, for instance was “Daniel Koh”. Let’s think this through a minute.

For starters, the asterisk thing is a complete bunk complication, making the whole thing seem somewhat magical. Type it in, then take it out? Pish. Leave that out entirely.

Also, in the three-digit character string that becomes your phone number’s last three digits, there are only 1000 number possibilities (000-999). So, no way this is about phone numbers.

And, that whole character string shows nothing at all on Google search. Until later today, that is. 😉

So, what is this?

The best theory is this: The three digits in the character string are Facebook account numbers, likely from early account holders (the first 1000) at Harvard, where Facebook launched. The character string in question returns the name associated with that account number.

Let’s check out the name I got: “Daniel Koh”. There is a Daniel Koh on FB. He did attend Harvard. And, thanks to the new Timeline, I can easily see that he joined FB on February 8, 2004 – the month Facebook launched.

And, looking at his profile picture URL tells me his account number (as opposed to his account nickname in the URL). And, indeed, it ends in my phone number’s last three digits.

Bingo. Mystery solved.

So, that character string is not any magical SIM card or phone identifier. Your phone does not have a name.

But, I’ve got a bad feeling that 1000 former Harvard students are about to get popular.

Addition: Reader David Miller points out this string: @[4:0] which nets “Mark Zuckerberg” himself. We also tried numbers 1 through 3, which returned only zeroes. Which leads us to wonder: Did accounts numbered 1 and 2 belong to the Winklevoss Twins?

  • Richard

    Good catch, thanks for that!

    • michelle


  • http://www.millerswebsite.co.uk David Miller

    It works with 4 which is Mark Zuckerbergs profile lol. @[4:0] btw

  • http://sacredgrove.ghosticform.com Jacky

    Yeah, I don’t think you’re really getting it with the *. If the original poster didn’t put the star, it would automatically change what we’re supposed to put into a name, which means we wouldn’t be able to find out what we’re supposed to put, sooo….

  • Mike Tuttle

    @ Jacky: I got that. The viral post that I copy/pasted that bit from did not. The comments surrounding it indicated that other readers thought there was some computer voodoo going on in the act of deleting the place-holder asterisk. Thanks for your clarification.

    @David Miller: The article has been updated with your Zuckerberg observation. Thanks!!

  • Steven Ishee

    This article doesn’t realize that more than three digits can be entered. I have determined all numbers between 100 and 35647 produce names with the known exceptions of 114 125 and 573, im sure other exceptions are known.

  • Steven Ishee

    The zero after the colon isn’t necessary. @*[number:]

  • matt


  • matt


  • JimmyJimJam

    I’ve been told the following by a software engineer: “that opens port 8080 wide open on a windows machine with a nice little encrypted code so the person never knows when the hacker is in”. He says the only way to fix it is to wipe the HD and reinstall Windows. Anyone else know if this is true?

    • Necrophageon

      It’s 135% bullshit.

  • Joey

    995:0 returns 0

  • william valente


  • nichole


  • kayeloni

    Why get so serious about it…I’m sure people aren’t stupid enough to think its “magic”…its just for fun

  • Hayley

    No joke. This is exactly what I thought was going on.

  • Marylee

    After googling some of the names that were popping up I noticed that they were all Harvard grads. Does the numbering system go on forever? Does everyone have a number?

  • Phil

    It must be a way of reconisign when you have put in your name or a name of a friend and linking it to it…
    513168808:0 is me…
    Your ID is on the address bar when you log in


  • caressa

    My friend tried [972:0] which also produced 0

  • Judi

    For those that have tried other # and gotten a zero. That is probably b/c that “account #” is no longer active on Facebook. People delete profiles all the time.

  • Twila

    @[986:0] also gives a 0.

  • matthew


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  • matthew


  • omnimotion

    I’ll show you what it is. Every facebook account has it’s unique id number. It is not limited to 3 characters or four, but it can goes up to 15 characters. If you know your Account ID number, and type it in the comment, it will show your name. It’s basically just the database of facebook consisting of unique IDs.

  • http://www.yahoo.com Bob


  • Tonguc

    this article is about facebook id numbers. 1, 2 and 3 are for debugging