A mysterious glitch on Facebook altered friendship statuses across the whole of the network today, triggering messages congratulating users on celebrating 46 years of friendship as of Thursday, December 31, 2016. The new duration of these friendships was not contingent on any other factors, such as whether either friend had been born before December 31, 1969, a prerequisite to being friends for 46 years (even assuming a friendship can start at birth).
The glitch seemed to appear at random, with some users finding hundreds of relationships affected, while others did not see any change at all.
On this day 46 years ago, December 31, 1969, I became friends with 67 people on Facebook. WTF? Go home Facebook, you're drunk.
— Erin (@thespiffycookie) December 31, 2015
As usual, when something goes wrong on Facebook many users clicked across the proverbial street to Twitter to share and discuss the odd, often reality-bending news. Normally this kind of cross-platform chatter is reserved for news and system-wide crashes, but on the last day of the year, with many people on vacation and a general lack of newsworthy things going on at the moment, everyone seemed especially into talking about Facebook’s technical hiccups.
According to USA Today, Facebook engineers (and many tech-savvy users) believe the error may be related to the network’s Unix-based internal clock. Unix calculates time by counting the number of seconds away a given moment would be from the system’s start or “epoch” time, January 1, 1970. That’s, you guessed it, 46 years from tomorrow. Presumably, something caused those timers to reset.
Either Facebook is using the Unix start date to honor 46 years of FB friendship, or there's a rift in space and time pic.twitter.com/FXyeZOtDa2
— Kat Sweet (@TheSweetKat) December 31, 2015
By Thursday afternoon, however, Facebook announced it was in the process of fixing the bug and getting all of our friendships back on track. “We’ve identified this bug and the team’s fixing it now so everyone can ring in 2016 feeling young again,” Facebook representative Chelsea Kohler said in a prepared statement.
Now that your Facebook friendships are all back on track, go forth and celebrate a Happy New Year!