Believe it or not, Facebook turned 10 today, and the social network and its founder are in a reflective mood. “I remember getting pizza with my friends one night in college shortly after opening Facebook,” said Mark Zuckerberg in a status update. “I told them I was excited to help connect our school community, but one day someone needed to connect the whole world.”
To celebrate its first decade of connecting people, Facebook rolled out a well-intentioned new Lookback tool, which trawls your Timeline for big emotional events, like engagements and graduations. Then it splices together important moments in a somber montage, complete with mood-setting background music. Don Draper might as well be pitching Kodak.
It’s a nice thought. But the problem with algorithmically sifting through peoples’ lives and using Likes and comments to zero in on sentimental moments is that it doesn’t really work, especially if you deviate from the share-everything ethos of Facebook’s ideal user.
You can try Facebook’s Lookback machine for yourself here. But I think it’s safe to assume that most users, including myself, are far from Facebook’s ideal. Everyone uses it differently. Here, for example, is one of my more touching status updates according to Facebook’s metrics, which I posted mindlessly when I was covering the 2012 elections for a previous job:
And here’s an important Facebook memory ostensibly taken from one of my more forgettable science articles about an ugly fish:
Perhaps I’m wrong. Maybe other users out there will get something a little more in line with the Lookback tool’s good intentions, as my colleague John Brownlee did. (You can read his take here.)
Happy birthday in any case, Facebook. Thanks for the memories. Sort of.
Update 2/5/14: It appears some readers have tried to spruce up their Lookback montages by going into Facebook and deleting photos. Do not do this. At the moment, doing so appears to brick Facebook’s splicing software, making your video unretrievable. (A few wonderful commenters have pointed out how you can still view the original video in your cache, however.) Also: For some Facebook users, the Lookback video isn’t showing up at all and is just displaying pictures. Don’t be alarmed! It looks like you just haven’t generated enough content on Facebook. Finally, if you’d like to save the video to your computer, the Daily Dot has an excellent walkthrough here on how to do so. If you continue to have other issues, please let us know in the comments.