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At 113, Woman Lies About Her Age So She Can Join Facebook

Facebook's log-in page currently doesn't allow a date earlier than Jan. 1, 1905, to be selected.
Facebook's log-in page currently doesn't allow a date earlier than Jan. 1, 1905, to be selected.

Since her birth in 1900, Anna Stoehr has seen dramatic shifts in technology. But when the Minnesota woman tried recently to create a Facebook account, she hit a snag. The service's software couldn't handle her advanced age of 113 years old. So she fudged it a bit, and said she was 99.

To put Stoehr's age in context, we'll remind you: She was born three years before the Wright brothers conducted their historic first flight of an airplane in North Carolina.

Her story was highlighted recently by KARE 11 TV, which visited Stoehr in Plainview, Minn., shortly before Stoehr's birthday party. She turns 114 Wednesday.

KARE notes that when Stoehr was born, her family didn't have a telephone or a car — or electricity. But she recently got some new gadgets, including an iPad, after her son Harlan, 85, talked about her with a wireless store salesman this summer. The salesman became curious and met her in person after Harlan bought an iPhone.

Since then, the salesman, Joseph Ramireza, has gotten Stoehr set up for video chats. And he typed a letter for her to send to Facebook to let the company know she couldn't log on. She hasn't heard back, but Stoehr now has an account, along with 31 friends.

"That's an aspect of my mom," Harlan says. "She's been curious about everything all her life and continues to be curious about it."

The issue of centenarians having trouble joining Facebook made headlines last year, when Marguerite Joseph of Michigan, 104, realized she had to say she was 99 to have an account.

At the time, the company issued this statement:

"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 look at Facebook's current sign-up page finds that its drop-down menu for users' birthdays doesn't go earlier than 1905.

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Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.