Why Facebook has had to say sorry for its 'Year in Review'

Evan Bartlett@ev_bartlett
Sunday 28 December 2014 16:30
Science and Tech

You've probably seen it pop up on your own feed. Like many people you may have watched it and enjoyed it and shared it with your friends.

But Facebook has apologised to one user after its Year in Review post - algorithmically tailored to each individual user - brought up bad memories.

The Year in Review post is supposed to show the photographic highlights of a person's year - based on views and interactions - but for one man it reminded him just how heart-wrenching his had been.

Web developer Eric Meyer criticised the algorithm in a blog post after it "so forcefully" brought up a picture of his six-year-old daughter who died earlier this year after suffering from brain cancer.

The picture appeared in the preview post asking him if he'd like to see his Year in Review.

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.

To show me Rebecca’s face and say “Here’s what your year looked like!” is jarring.

It feels wrong, and coming from an actual person, it would be wrong. Coming from code, it’s just unfortunate.

  • Eric Meyer

Speaking to the Washington Post, Facebook spokesperson Jonathan Gheller said: "[The app] was awesome for a lot of people, but clearly in this case we brought him grief rather than joy."

"It's valuable feedback," he added. "We can do better - I'm very grateful he took the time in his grief to write the blog post."

More: Facebook considering developing tech to stop you drunk posting

Trending