(Cross-posted from a note on Cutting the Chai’s Facebook page)
Your Cell Phone has a name!
Take the last three digits of your number
Type it like this: @[618:0]
in the comments below and hit enter.
It’s name will appear!
While this is fun, it is in fact NOT your phone’s name and therefore don’t even try addressing your phone by that name. It might just take offence.
Now coming to the technical parts:
It cannot be your phone’s name because the phone number belongs to your SIM and not your phone. Now that we have got this bit of commonsense sorted, let’s move on to the finer details.
What does the image/text ask you to do? Add the last three digits of your phone number in a particular format and then a name will appear. So this is how this works:
Every Facebook user has a numerical ID and this is used to identify them across the Facebook universe.
For example my Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg’s ID is “717545176”
For users who haven’t opted for Facebook usernames, is can be easily found on their profile for example: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=THE-NUMBER-HERE-IS-THE-ID
It is a bit more complicated for users with usernames. They need to click on their profile image and the see the URL. It will be somewhat in this format:
The last bunch of numbers (in bold) is your Facebook numeric ID.
Therefore the format that Facebook uses when you tag your friends is @[FACEBOOK-NUMERIC-ID:0]
So the number you enter in place of the FACEBOOK-NUMERIC-ID will throw up the name of the user in the corresponding Facebook account.
Try this with your numeric ID and your name will show up too. For example try this @[717545176:0] and it will display “Sheryl Sandberg”. And how about Mark Zuckerberg? Try @[4:0]
The reason why you are asked to enter only the last three digits of your phone number is because there are greater chances of finding a user with a three-digit ID than with a longer figure.
Much of these users with three digit Facebook numeric IDs are among the first Facebook users and a brief scan through their profiles also establish the fact that they were from Harvard, other colleges in the Boston area, the Ivy League and Stanford University.
So now you know, the name you see isn’t your phone’s but of one of the early Facebook users. But good fun, nevertheless.