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Epoch time: why a Facebook bug is congratulating some users on 46 years of friendship

Libby Nelson is Vox's policy editor, leading coverage of how government action and inaction shape American life. Libby has more than a decade of policy journalism experience, including at Inside Higher Ed and Politico. She joined Vox in 2014.

A weird bug on Facebook is congratulating people on 46 years of friendship — even though most of them are younger than 46 and the site has been around for less than a quarter of that time.

As spotted by Vox's Lauren Katz, who is 24:

This is probably the result of something called "epoch time," which is a way the Unix operating system records time. Epoch time is the number of seconds that have elapsed since midnight on January 1, 1970.

Many servers use Unix, so a lot of programming is based off epoch time — and January 1, 1970, was 46 years ago.

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