Why am I seeing the wrong times on Facebook time stamps?

Jack C April 26, 2014
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I am managing a Facebook page, and something very odd is going on. The timestamp of posts made by fans is incorrect – it shows posts that have been made in the future.

For example, the timestamp is showing “In 5 hours”, indicating it’s been posted on a Sunday, in fact it’s a Saturday. When an admin responds, the comment shows the correct timestamp.

During a test post, it reported straight away as “posted in 33 minutes”, rather than the current time. This is displayed to multiple FB user accounts, even to users logged out.

Has anyone seen this before?

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  1. Jack C
    May 8, 2014 at 11:46 am

    So some how it magically resolved itself.

  2. Jack C
    April 28, 2014 at 6:45 am

    It's also saying status updates on the mobile version as "Just Now" when there are comments with the timestamp of "yesterday".

    Here's an example: https://twitter.com/jack_cola/status/460327877418823680

  3. Jack C
    April 28, 2014 at 6:43 am

    This is not the problem if it is happening with multiple users across different computers, and networks.

  4. Hovsep A
    April 27, 2014 at 12:20 pm
  5. Oron J
    April 26, 2014 at 4:19 pm

    Check the time zone and time on your computer. These problems (not just on facebook) are usually caused by either or both of those causes. It's also possible that the original posters' machines are set incorrectly, but if this is happening with multiple users, the chances are that its your machine and not all of theirs'.

    • Jack C
      April 27, 2014 at 1:56 am

      Hello Oron,

      I've tested with multiple Facebook accounts, on multiple computers, and it all shows the same data.

      It's also causing issues with third party apps we use, as they are not picking up the data because "technically" it hasn't been posted.

      For example, a status update left by a fan was made on Sunday 27th at 10:50am, we reply, and it says the comment to the status update was made Saturday 26th at 3:06pm.

      If it was an issue with a time on a local computer, you wouldn't have a status update that is posted at a later time of the comment - it's not possible.

      When I manually made a post, it says it was posted in "33 minutes" across all computers and logged in user accounts.

    • Bruce E
      April 30, 2014 at 1:44 pm

      Jack,
      It most certainly is possible for the time on a local computer to make it look like a comment is posted earlier than the time of the status update. If the local computer of the individual posting the status update has the correct local time but the wrong timezone and Facebook is adjusting all times to UTC or Epoch time on its servers, the adjusted time will be wrong (in either direction depending on the timezone setting). Now a computer with the correct local time and timezone posts a comment on the status update and it can end up appearing as being posted before the original status update since Facebook appears to be making the assumption that the times and timezones it is getting from the end users messages are correct.

      The easy fix for this would be to ensure that the Facebook servers are time synced regularly enough to keep them within about 30 seconds of each other and only use the server times for everything which is the way I would have designed the system since end users can be notorious for having the incorrect time and/or timezone settings on their devices.

    • Jack C
      May 1, 2014 at 12:13 pm

      Hello Bruce, thanks for your comment.

      It's on a Facebook page with over 400k likes, and customer service orientated - so there are a lot of comments by customers that are coming in wrong. It's wrong for everyone that views it - so you can't say on one day customers, and ours timezone all changed at once.

      The easy fix? How do you "time sync" Facebook servers? I would imagine when a comment is left on a Facebook page, the time recorded would be the time/timezone of the Facebook server, which would then output to the user a different time based on the users timezone, rather than rely on incorrect users.

      This is causing integration issues with two services we use Hootsuite and Zendesk.

      So what's the fix? Timezones are correct on clients, and I would assume all of the posts customers make as well.

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