Facebook has again unleashed its Year In Review app, automatically compiling some of the most-liked photos from your feeds over 2014 and puts them into a neat little timeline.
When you sign into Facebook, you’ll see an advertisement to check out your Year In Review, customize it, and share it with your friends. If you’re still having trouble finding it, you can simply sign into Facebook and go to this URL: http://facebook.com/yearinreview.
For most folks, the algorithm does its job. It’s not perfect, but it’s a fine way to look back at my year and remember the big moments, even if I would have made different decisions when it comes to the actual photos used. And when you consider that Facebook is offering this customized feature to over 1 billion people, it’s almost impressive.
And then you read something like this, where a man is being consistently reminded that this year, his young daughter passed away.
Algorithms are essentially thoughtless. They model certain decision flows, but once you run them, no more thought occurs. To call a person “thoughtless” is usually considered a slight, or an outright insult; and yet, we unleash so many literally thoughtless processes on our users, on our lives, on ourselves.
Where the human aspect fell short, at least with Facebook, was in not providing a way to opt out. The Year in Review ad keeps coming up in my feed, rotating through different fun-and-fabulous backgrounds, as if celebrating a death, and there is no obvious way to stop it. Yes, there’s the drop-down that lets me hide it, but knowing that is practically insider knowledge. How many people don’t know about it? Way more than you think.
While Facebook likely hasn’t a single bad intention releasing this product, not everyone wants to remember the fine details of their year. And it’s nearly impossible for Facebook to tell the difference between those people and the people who love reminiscing over 2014.
So… if 2014 wasn’t nearly as good as you hope 2015 will be, maybe approach Facebook with caution and use the drop-down menu to hide your Year In Review. Otherwise, let the good times roll and share that sucker.
Also, Merry Christmas to our lovely readers. You guys are the best.