Facebook apologizes for ‘Year in Review’ feature
Facebook has apologized to at least one person for its popular ‘Year in Review’ feature.
The feature highlights Facebook users’ biggest moments from 2014 with the default tagline, “It’s been a great year! Thanks for being a part of it.” It’s been popping up in news feeds for the last few weeks.
The celebratory posts have dug up some painful memories for many people.
Blogger Eric Meyer wrote in a blog post that when Facebook advertised his Year In Review in his news feed, it showed his daughter, who had died of brain cancer on her sixth birthday. Her photo was surrounded by clip art of people dancing, surrounded by balloons and streamers:
And I know, of course, that this is not a deliberate assault. This inadvertent algorithmic cruelty is the result of code that works in the overwhelming majority of cases, reminding people of the awesomeness of their years, showing them selfies at a party or whale spouts from sailing boats or the marina outside their vacation house.
But for those of us who lived through the death of loved ones, or spent extended time in the hospital, or were hit by divorce or losing a job or any one of a hundred crises, we might not want another look at this past year.
The Washington Post reports Facebook’s Jonathan Gheller said he reached out to Meyer to apologize.
“[The app] was awesome for a lot of people, but clearly in this case we brought him grief rather than joy,” Gheller told the Post.
Gheller said the team that created the app will consider Meyer’s concerns when making improvements.