Facebook Hoax Makes Its Rounds

    January 15, 2012
    Mike Tuttle

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?