In an acknowledgement that not every social media moment is a fun trip into nostalgia, Facebook has now enabled filters on its “On This Day” feature, which resurfaces past moments from a user’s timeline. Now, those who wish to can tell Facebook not to remind them of events involving certain people or dates. It looks like this:
And is accessible by clicking the “preferences” setting on your very own On This Day page.
In a statement to ABC News on Tuesday, Facebook said that it was aware that “people share a range of meaningful moments on Facebook — from celebrating good times like a birthday to getting support in tough times like the passing of a friend or relative.”
“As a result, everyone has various kinds of memories that can be surfaced — good, bad and everything in between,” the statement continued. “So for the millions of people who use On This Day, we’ve added these filters to give them more control over the memories they see.”
When “On This Day” was introduced in March, there was already an obvious potential issue with Facebook’s ability to look through the past of its users and find memories for them: not all memories are good memories, particularly so for ones that might seem “important” to an algorithm.
This became strikingly clear last Christmas Eve, when Eric Meyer wrote about Facebook’s similar “Year in Review” feature, which ended up showing him the face of his daughter, who had died that year. The “Year in Review” came with the tagline “It’s been a great year! Thanks for being a part of it,” which rendered the disconnect even more striking. And Meyer wasn’t the only one to have an unpleasant year returned to them in such cheery packaging.
Facebook apologized to Meyer and others who had similar memories surfaced for them, but the story remained a cautionary tale for the company’s descent into the industry of nostalgia.
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