They do say that the devil is in the details, but we’re not sure that many people will have gone to quite the extremes that it seems someone on Facebook’s design team did when left along with the icon that hides a user’s notifications.
The icon we’re talking about is probably one that you’ve clicked countless times but never really paid any attention to. It lives in the top navigation bar on facebook.com and looks like a tiny little globe. Well, it is a tiny little globe in fact, and it turns out that it’s more than just a static icon.
While some designers may have just put any old picture of the planet into the Facebook navigation bar and left it at that, someone at Facebook wanted to go a little bit further. As a result, it turns out, this little globe will change depending on which part of the world you are logging in as. We’re not making this up.
The easy way to test this is to log on and take a look at what icon you’re being served by Facebook. Then, log in again but via a VPN from the opposite side of the world. You’ll notice the icon has changed to reflect that apparently different location because Facebook is checking where your IP address is registered. Using a VPN makes the site think you’re in a different country and hence the different icon.
It may not have any bearing on usability at all, but it still gives us a little warm and fuzzy feeling because it means that somewhere, maybe locked in a cupboard with no windows, someone at Facebook cares.
And that’s a rarity these days.
But for some, it might send chills down the spine, after all, someone is actually looking at you. Get it? Looking at you. And knows where you’ve signed in from, no matter how clever you’ve been, by either hiding your hometown from your profile, or used Facebook on someone else’s phone, tablet or computer.
But hey, it’s a neat little detail on Facebook’s site, and before people get the wrong ideas about it, check it out yourself. You’ll never look at that notifications icon the same again from now on.