Facebook apologises for ‘Year in Review’ timeline feature

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Facebook has apologised acknowledging the fact that its “Year in Review” app has revived unpleasant memories of some of its users.

The recently rolled out “Year In Review” feature automatically compiles a selection of most-liked photos in users’ feeds and sticks them into a personal timeline, with the default tagline for the posts declaring “It’s been a great year! Thanks for being a part of it.”

While the photo timeline was “great” for some, it proved out to be a nightmare for users like Eric Meyer.
For Writer and web design consultant Meyer, the “Year in Review” timeline highlighted the picture of his daughter, who died of brain cancer earlier this year, which caused him a lot of grief.

“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,” Eric Meyer wrote in an article titled “Inadvertent Algorithmic Cruelty.”

“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,” Meyer wrote.

In response, Jonathan Gheller, product manager for the feature at Facebook, apologized for the pain the feature caused.

“The app was awesome for a lot of people, but clearly in this case we brought him grief rather than joy,” he told the Washington Post.

“The team behind the feature is considering ways to improve it and will take Meyer’s concerns into account,” he added.