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Facebook apologizes for ‘Year in Review’ feature

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Facebook (Credit: CNN)

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.

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11 comments

  • Sherry Roit

    I’m sorry for the guy, but on the other hand, one will NEVER go through life without being offended, however inadvertently, by anything, In other words, the entire world cannot accommodate every “what if”. If not facebook, something else would’ve reminded him.

  • Carrie Sapp

    Eric Meyer is a well-known and respected member of the web development community, and as an internet based company, Facebook is wise to heed his input, as are all app makers. A learning opportunity for the entire tech industry, indeed.

  • C. E.

    I didn’t appreciate having another person post this when we are NOT friends. I agree that this felt very intrusive and should not have been allowed to post to my facebook when we are not friends!

  • CBP

    Facebook is one of the most intrusive crappy programs on the internet and they are hooked into You Tube and Google. Most other Search Engines and who knows what else.??

    They have ZERO interest in anything that doesn’t make them MONEY!!!! And you can take that to the bank!

  • Jody

    The “Year in Review” also highlighted our daughter and son-in-laws death surrounded by all the party favors and people dancing so I chose to not use it of course. I think that for those who have not shared sadness on Facebook it might be a fun thing to share but for those of us who have share real life painful events it was a little shocking but we have the choice to decline.

    • Jean Ward

      That’s just it … you have the choice to start the Year in Review by clicking to start it. So if you didn’t want to review your year, one shouldn’t click on showing it. Don’t share your FaceBook with anyone else and they won’t be able to share anything !!!!

  • Sue Johnson Abo

    I think the idea is a nice feature. However i didnt like seeing My Husband and MY wedding picture since he died 10 years ago. I think there is a fix to the problem just have everyone put an x on the pictures they would like . Surely it wouldnt be hard to share the pictures to Facebook.

  • Lisa

    Fb does not owe an apology. Had a horrific year?! Do what I did: don’t click on review my year. Plain and simple. Sorry but I had death this year. Number one reason I did not review my year.

  • Michael Peterson

    I had the exact same problem on my page. My mom passed away on Sept 27 2014. When the app started to show on my page, it showed my mom laying in a bed in the hospital. This just ruined my day and week. I keep seeing others app show which keeps reminding me of the day I seen those photos in a spread. Thanks Facebook for reminding me of a sad time.

  • Teresa

    I think some peoples response to the “Year in Review” is silly, it did say review, which means whatever you posted this year it will show up and if you don’t want to have bad memories brought back up then why do you post them on Facebook where they can be seen on a daily basis for friends and family members to see and bring back those bad feelings. My Brother has been in the hospital since June 8th 2014 and almost died, been in a coma for 1 month has no memory of some things and is now having to relearn how to eat food and walk again and 2 of the pictures that showed up on my review was of him in the hospital at deaths bed and not looking like that big strong brother that I know he is and I know it’s not the same as a loved one passing (which I know how that feels since I have been in the room with 4 very close family members as they died next to me), but it is still very difficult and challenging but I made the choice to download those pictures of him on Facebook just like all those other people on Facebook chose to download the pictures of their loved ones that have passed away so I have a hard time understanding way you blame Facebook for bringing back memories when you yourself are the one that put those memories there. It brought a smile to my face when I saw the pictures of my brother because I like to remember the good times and the positive of people/things and not dwell on all the sad/negative things in life. I know some people will not agree with how I feel and that’s OK because everyone deals with grief and pain differently.

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