Social networking site Facebook has apologised for the bad memories its new “Year in Review” feature stirred up in people who lost their close family members, friends and homes in 2014.
The automated feature brings to the front of a member’s timeline a series of images and posts from 2014, just to show how brilliant a twelve-month period it’s been but makes no allowances for those unfortunate posts that bring back the most painful and haunting memories possible.
The feature coupled with a tag line saying “it has been a great year” brought grief to a web designer expert who named the app as “inadvertent algorithmic cruelty” as it forced him to relive the pain of his young daughter’s tragic death.
“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,” Eric Meyer 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 after viewing the picture of his daughter, who died of brain cancer earlier this year, in his news feed.
Facebook admitted that it may not have been the best idea after all, after a flurry of complaints flew in from parties unable that their year had been one to celebrate.
“The app was awesome for a lot of people, but clearly in this case we brought him grief rather than joy,” said product manager for Facebook, Jonathan Gheller.
“We can do better” I’m very grateful he took the time in his grief to write the blog post,” he added.
Facebook members have also lashed out at the overly prominent nature of the feature, which is extremely difficult to ignore with its constant promotion and reminders.