Facebook's Secret Code

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Probably not a big shocker that the minds behind Facebook are a little dweeby. Proof positive? They've incorporated an old video-game code into the site.

The Konami code, named after the Japanese company behind classics like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series and the Nintendo Contra classics, is one of video-gaming's most storied cheats. During development of the 1985 Konami arcade game Gradius, a programmer found the game to be too difficult and programmed in a key sequence — up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A — that, if entered, gave the player a set of the game's power-ups. As word of the shortcut spread, other programmers aped his cheat, working the same sequence into their own games. The Konami code works in nearly 100 video games now, including Frogger and Dance Dance Revolution.

And now it works for Facebook. Try it for yourself — log in to Facebook and type the code: up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A, enter. It doesn't matter where you type it: just have the Facebook page open and active. The result? Lens flares — those groovy circles that appear when pointing a camera into the sun — appear on your page with every click of the mouse. Useful? Not in the slightest. But they're easy enough to get rid of — logout and they're gone.

Facebook isn't the only site that makes use of the Konami code. There's even a dedicated website — Konami Code Sites — chronicling what the code does on sites around the Web. (Naturally, you have to type the code to access the site.) Some other big names make the list: on the social news site Digg it expands all the comments in a given thread, and on MLB.tv, it lets you watch highlights in slow motion. The folks behind Konami Code Sites encourage you to try other sites too, in case some developer with an acute sense of video-gaming history inserted a surprise.