TECH

Don’t Believe This Facebook Hoax. Your Phone Does Not Have A 'Name'

Here's what's really going on.

You might’ve seen a post circulating on Facebook, telling you that your phone has a secret "name" and inviting you to discover it by typing the last three digits of your phone number into the comments section. The post is part hoax: If you follow the instructions, it'll indeed generate a first and last name, but this has nothing to do with your phone having a secret identity. 

Here’s one of the messages that's currently going around: 

This appears to work only on mobile. When we tried it on desktop, Facebook automatically placed a space between the "@" and bracket symbols, and no name showed up.

But here's what happened when I punched in my phone's info on my mobile app.

 In the right-hand column (above), you can see a list of paired names. All the way at the bottom is Lorenzo Ligato (me), and the name that appears directly below mine -- Eugenie Shieh -- is what appeared when I typed "@[565:0]" into my Facebook app. 

This trick has been around for years, with some posts dating back as far as January 2012. Hoax Slayer, a community dedicated to debunking hoaxes and scams, says the name that appears when you type in that bracketed code corresponds not to your phone but to a real Facebook user.

Here are the details from Hoax Slayer:

  • Each and every Facebook Profile has a unique Identification Number associated with it. 
  • @[string_of_digits:0] is a shortcode that, when entered into a Facebook comment box, displays the name of the user associated with that ID number.
  • The code has no connection whatsoever to your cell phone number.
  • The number entered does not have to be only three digits, and in fact most Facebook ID's will be considerably longer.
  • These short (three digit) profile numbers suggest that they belong to some of Facebook's earliest users.

 As noted by Hoax Slayer, the trick works even when you enter numbers that are shorter or longer than three digits. When we typed into Facebook the sequence @[4:0], a familiar name showed up in the comment:

As further proof, you can use the same method to find your own name. Websites like FindMyFacebookID are an easy way to find your Facebook’s personal identification number  --  the same number that pre-2009 users had in their profile URL before Facebook started rolling out usernames. 

Your phone, then, might not really have a name. But don't worry, that doesn’t mean you can’t find creative ways to use this Facebook trick. Maybe pick the name for your first child?

Facebook did not respond to a request for comment.

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