Chances are good that you or someone you know is right now celebrating 46 years of friendship on Facebook.
That’s despite the fact that they most likely haven’t been friends for 46 years — on Facebook or otherwise. What seems to be a bug in the way the social media platform triggers these memories is causing Facebook to erroneously congratulate users many decades early.
Other than the odd number of years, the notification appears just like that of any friendship anniversary celebration. It just happens to say 46 years rather than, say, the actual correct amount of time. Most users seem amused to find the glitched celebration rather than alarmed, so it’s not like anyone’s questioning their entire reality over this (though the conspiracy theories must surely already be spinning).
Why exactly is this happening, and why 46 years instead of anything else? There’s no official answer just yet, but the theory goes that it has to do with the way many computers keep track of time by counting seconds from Jan. 1, 1970. That hits 46 years today and is almost too perfect of a coincidence to not be related. For whatever reason, it sounds like Facebook’s system is substituting that number in for the one it should be displaying.
Seeing 46 years on Facebook? Probably a code error related to the epoch, which will be 46 at midnight. https://t.co/amdn31NGHm
— ♥︎ (@yurivictor) December 31, 2015
Mashable reports that Facebook is aware of the problem, as a spokesperson had reached out to say: “We’ve identified this bug and the team's fixing it now so everyone can ring in 2016 feeling young again."
Whether that will remove previous, already shared versions of the notifications is unclear, but if so, they will live on in our hearts and also the Internet.