Facebook has apologized to at least one person over its Year In Review feature.
The default tagline for the feature is, “It’s been a great year! Thanks for being a part of it.”
The Year In Review feature then highlights the Facebook user’s biggest moments from 2014.
However, for some users, the feature showed some painful memories.
According to the Washington Post, Eric Meyer, a web design consultant and writer, lost his daughter to brain cancer on her sixth birthday.
He wrote in a blog post that he actively avoided looking at previews of his Year In Review because of the rough year he had.
Meyer says when Facebook advertised his Year In Review in his newsfeed, the feature showed his daughter, surrounded by clip art figures appearing to have a party.
Although Meyer knows Facebook didn’t intend to bring up this painful memory, he believes the Year In Review feature has a design flaw.
And I know, of course, that 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.
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.
According to the Washington Post, Facebook’s Jonathan Gheller said he reached out to Meyer to apologize.
“[The app] was awesome for a lot of people, but clearly in this case we brought him grief rather than joy,” he told the Post.