Time warp: when facebook’s localization goes wrong
Time Warp
Time Warp

Facebook is savvy about time zones and the fact that its users span the globe. But notice this conversation I had with a friend. He sent it at 12:39am on October 21st. I replied 3 hours earlier. 🙂 Now, if you look at our profiles, Roy and I live in the same time zone. Normally this would never happen. But, I happen to be in the UK when this happened. I think I replied a couple hours after his message, but at you’ll see, it’s essentially impossible to know, given what I see.

I think it has decided that I’m on the west coast. I’ll have to go figure out if that’s right. Without putting the time zones in there, though, it is impossible to sort out who sent what and when. You can’t tell if there’s an actual error in the time stamping, an error in my user profile or Roy’s user profile (e.g., one of us has told facebook that we’re in some weird location), or if there’s an error in the localization. That is, facebook could have figured out that I’m in the UK and tried to display local times, but then goofed up the conversion to my local time zone.

I wonder what kind of software testing you would have to do, if you couldn’t change the display to add in the time zone. Could this be tested in its current form? Could mistakes be distinguished from correct behavior?