Facebook's 'Year In Review' Feature Criticized For Pouring Salt On Old Wounds

It goes without saying that social media brings with it a slew of benefits -- quite simply, I couldn't imagine not having it at this point. It's proven a great way to not only keep in better contact with friends and family, but also to clue me in on what’s happening around the world; nowadays, most of the news I see comes from Facebook first. But, while that's all fine and good, I'll be the first to admit the social media is also rife with downsides, some of which are borderline rage inducing.

Take Facebook's "Year In Review", for example. I admittedly don't share that much to Facebook outside of jokes and memes, so my year in review was simply pathetic. But even if it had more substance, I couldn't fathom why Facebook would want me to recap other people on what I was up to all year. Chances are they already know what I've been up to - they're on my Facebook, after all.

Facebook HQ
Flickr: Marco Paköeningrat

My reasons for disliking the year in review concept were for fairly petty reasons, but I didn't consider the real downsides. Not long after Facebook rolled-out the feature, many users began complaining about being reminded of heart-wrenching events, such as losing a pet or someone close to you. While everyone mourns in their own way after a death happens, it's pretty horrible to have it shoved in your face by Facebook's algorithms.

That problem isn't Facebook's per se. The year in review feature works by gathering the most popular posts you've made to Facebook, and given the fact that a death would certainly be one of your more active posts, Facebook considers it notable, and thus includes it. The fix? Getting rid of what I believe is already a useless feature would be a great start, but I can't expect that to happen. I think it's instead time for Facebook to add more than just a "Like" button, because if it gauges a death as one of your highlights, something is really wrong.

I think it's also clear that the algorithm needs to be improved. Given how AI Facebook employs, there's no way I'd believe the company couldn't tell that a post encompasses more sadness than happiness. Phrases like "my heart goes out" or even frown faces would be a good place to start.

Nonetheless, Facebook has reached out to some users who were affected in the wrong way by its year in review, though it's uncertain if the company plans to change things for the future. Given all the brouhaha made around this, I couldn't imagine the feature being left intact.