Facebook Posts via SMS

So a couple of weeks back, I was faced with a chronic productivity drought. I mean I am either at home or at the laboratory and just could not figure out why I could not be productive. It turns out I spend a significant amount of my time on social networking sites (Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn) –I have since started running a series of controlled experiments on myself (results will be published in future publications). I decided to stay away from Facebook, however, most people from back home inbox me with important information –most of whom I need to contact immediately. The huddle though is that I have an Ultra Low Cost Handset (ULCH) that is not GPRS enable –it only has basic SMS and voice GSM capabilities.

A day later, I discovered that one could actually use SMS to update their Facebook status and at the same time subscribe to most Facebook notifications (new inbox messages, notes comments, wall posts& comment, photo tags& comments and even pokes :D). How helpful is this you may ask? well for one thing, it helps me figure out if its really necessary or not to login to Facebook and I just love the convinience of updating my status when I am away from my Laptop at home or my machine at the laboratory. AND… I don’t have to buy a smart phone.

The cool thing is that any mobile terminating SMS (MT-SMS) –notifications you receive on your phone– are free. What this effectively means is that all friend requests and any other notifications you subscribe to are free of charge. The only drawback in my case is that any SMS I send to shortcode 13999 (when updating my status and responding to friend requests) costs R0.35 (cost of a local SMS) –remember when you send the SMS to 13999, it goes to your local SMS-C server via a BTS and then the message is later routed to the appropriate SMS-C to a foreign network (at least that is how it is supposed to work in theory) and later to the appropriate Facebook servers.

So here is how you go about doing it:

STEP 1: Register your mobile station
Go to https://www.facebook.com/settings?tab=mobile and specify your country of origin and corresponding mobile carrier (the mobile network you are subscribed to).

example: I am currently in South Africa and my mobile carrier is Vodacom (see figure below).

Mobile Panel Settings

Mobile Panel


STEP 2: Send Confirmation SMS to shortcode
After specifying your country and mobile carrier, you will be instructed to send an SMS to a shortcode specific to your mobile operator.

example: I was instructed to send the message “F” to the shortcode 13999 (SMS cost me R0.35)
I then received an SMS confirmation message a flash of a second later with the message below.

Facebook Mobile
confirmation code: xxxxxx
Sender: +13999

Use the confirmation code to finish off the mobile registration process.

STEP 3: Specify which notifications you would like to recieve via SMS.
This part is necessary if you could like to explicitly specify the types of notifications you want to receive –The notifications can be quite annoying.
Go to https://www.facebook.com/settings?tab=notifications and then scroll down to the “All notifications” section. Notifications that are applicable have a mobile station icon just before the “Edit” text. Then click on “Edit” and specify whether you want to receive notifications on each applicable item. See figure below.

Notification panel

Notifications Panel Settings


Happy SMS FBing 😀 Enjoy!


[1] Facebook Mobile Texts, (N.D.). Retrieved August 19, 2011, from Facebook Help Center:  https://www.facebook.com/help/?page=821

Categories: General
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  • Joshua Phiri

    I think I’ll try that out as well.

    • @Joshua, I see you found my blog 😀 It turns out, none of the mobile operators in Zambia currently support Facebook Mobile Texts 🙁 and so it might not work for you. I’ll quote something quite interesting from the Facebook Mobile help center though… I hope you will manage to convince your mobile operator 😀

      “If you find that your carrier is not listed in the drop-down menu in Step 1 of the activation process, it means that your carrier is not currently supported for Facebook Mobile Texts. We encourage you to talk to your mobile operator to let them know that you are interested in this service.”

  • I understand that you cellphone doesn’t have GPRS, but don’t we spend enough time around computers with an internet connection that there’s almost no time that you actually need a GPRS-enabled cellphone?

    If you agree that that’s the case, then I’d rather argue for Facebook via email rather than SMS. Of course you can receive notifications via email, but it turns our that you can send messages, update your status, comment, etc. via email.

    The benefit over Facebook via SMS? It’s unobtrusive (unless you have push-email) and it’s (technically) free. Furthermore, a computer screen is so much better than an ULCH screen…

    • @Kyle, this is all part of my long term goal to try as much as possible to avoid Facebook –I hope it works to my advantage (addiction is a terrible thing). SMS was the only viable option for me because I now check personal emails once/day (Facebook notifications go to my personal email). I just figured this post would be useful to individuals with GSM mobile stations with basic voice& SMS features and have limited access to a computer with a dedicated Internet connection.

  • Brian Mushibi

    Hi, Lyto like we used to called you. Its now days that I have been goggling & following you on the net. Your blog is so informative. I had the same thought as Joshua but will take your advise. You have always inspired me from the days of Metal, Airtel and everyday. I always update myself with your whereabouts. Wishing you success in your future. After your research it will be nice watching you dance to Nyau (remember to invite me, hehe…)

    • @Brian Mushibi, ahhh… u just made my day… a trip down memory lane 😀 I will definitely invite u ;), but remember Nyau dancers remain anonymous… no one’s suppose to know your real identity :D.

  •  Nice information!

    Great post and thanks for sharing!

    Have you seen this website yet?


    Completely FREE and NO registration!


  • Any way I can send text message (SMS) containing Facebook post including embedded images and links. The audience for this request are those who have smart phones, but are not on Facebook.