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Facebook's 'Year In Review' forces some to relive tragedies

Facebook's 'Year In Review' forces some to relive tragedies
Facebook / Year in Review 2014

Can you believe it's almost 2015 already? I swear, I blink and a whole year whizzes by. It's really neat to look back on the past year and see what you've accomplished, and Facebook wants to help you do that.

Have you seen that "Year In Review" feature popping up on your Facebook News Feed? A lot of folks enjoy revisiting their biggest moments, but some others are furious at Facebook. That's because a so-called "design flaw" forced some to revisit tragic events.

Facebook seems to land itself in hot water a lot of the time, but in this case it was a nice gesture that backfired.

The "Year in Review" from Facebook uses an algorithm to find your most-liked and commented-on posts, pictures and videos and showcase it in a little album for you to look back on the past year. For some, it's a nice way to look back on their year and share it with others.

But for one man, it was a reminder of a tragic loss in his life.

Eric Mayer, an Ohio-based web designer, lost his 6-year-old daughter earlier this year. And unfortunately for Mayer, Facebook's algorithm highlighted the photo of his daughter's face when it prompted him to look at and share the Year in Review album on Christmas Eve.

Mayer wrote an open letter to Facebook on his personal blog pointing out the flaw in their well-meaning program.

In his post, he says: "Yes, my year looked like that. True enough. My year looked like the now-absent face of my little girl. It was still unkind to remind me so forcefully."

"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."

Do you have anything to add to this conversation? Let me know in the comments below!

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