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  • Lisa Jevens

Facebook glitch blocks some centenarians from revealing true age

It’s hard to be 104 years old and be on Facebook because a technical glitch won’t allow users born before 1910 to set up their account correctly.

For several years, a 104-year-old Michigan woman was forced to lie about her age on Facebook. Not that Grosse Pointe Shores centenarian Marguerite Joseph had anything she was trying to hide.

Joseph's granddaughter, Gail Marlow, who set up her grandmother’s Facebook page, said Facebook wouldn’t let Joseph list her real birth year, which is 1908.

Marlow said when she tried inputting her grandmother's birth year, Facebook changed it to a different year and sent an error message, defaulting Joseph's age to 99. So for the past two years, Joseph remained younger online, until a WDIV-TV news report broke the story on Wednesday, and Facebook hurriedly corrected Joseph’s age.

Joseph is legally blind and can't hear well, but Marlow reads and responds to all her Facebook messages for her.

Marlow told Detroit's WDIV-TV she had tried emailing Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg for years but had no luck.

Having the correct birth year is important, she said, because Joseph will turn 105 this year on April 19, and they wanted to celebrate it, not hide it. Facebook does allow users to have three-digit ages. They appear in the drop-down menu back to 1905. You simply have to check a box saying you are really that age. There just seems to be a problem if you go back past 1910, as Marlow did.

Facebook spokesman Andrew Noyes confirmed on Thursday that Joseph’s birthdate had been fixed. But the site is still working to fix a problem limiting use of pre-1910 birthdates.

The official statement reads: "We've recently discovered an issue whereby some Facebook users may be unable to enter a birthday before 1910. We are working on a fix for this and we apologize for the inconvenience. "A word of warning: Don’t test this glitch at home for kicks. If you change your birthdate, Facebook will not allow you to change it back for a few days.

This story was originally published on, on February 23, 2013.

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