Facebook sanitizes your year, scrubbing out the bad stuff

You can also edit your 2015 Year in Review to remove any photos that remind you of less happy times.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
3 min read

Your Facebook Year in Review Page now tries to spare you from bad memories.

Screenshot by Lance Whitney/CNET

Facebook rolled out a personalized Year in Review page for its users that attempts to remember only the good times.

Launched on Wednesday, the page displays many of the photos you've posted on Facebook throughout 2015, offering you a visual tour of your entire year, at least as you shared it on the site. Rather than show you all of your photos, the social network applied some technical smarts by automatically eliminating photos associated with painful events, such as a death in the family.

You can edit your photo lineup to add photos the site missed or remove ones you'd rather not see again. You can select up to 10 photos altogether.

Social networks like Facebook offer an outlet to share both the good and bad times of your life, as you see fit. They also routinely try to present what they think you want to see. In the case of Facebook, the world's largest social network, that includes the "top stories" in your feed, reminders to wish friends a happy birthday and memories you can share of individual posts you made years ago. It's all about getting you to visit Facebook more often and to linger longer when you do.

But not every memory on Facebook is a good one.

In 2014, Facebook triggered criticism when the photo of a girl who died appeared on her father's Year in Review page. The photo was surrounded by images of people dancing and partying as if it were a happy event, prompting the father to compose a blog post expressing the pain and grief he experienced as a result. The Menlo Park, California, company wanted to avoid the same type of situation this year.

"We heard feedback last year that we need to do more to select the photos that are most enjoyable to people and make it easier for them to edit the photos they see and share in their Year in Review," a Facebook spokesperson said. "So we've applied a unique set of filters to Your Year in Review to reduce the chance we'll show you a photo you don't want to see. And for the photos that our algorithms don't catch, we're giving people control over the photos in their Year in Review."

The photos you first see in your Year in Review page use filters that Facebook applies to other features, such as On This Day, which looks back on a specific day in your Facebook history, a company spokesman said. You won't see photos where memorialized accounts or ex-spouses are tagged, or photos with people you've blocked. You can add such photos manually if you wish.

"We know that people share a range of content on Facebook, and we want them to be able to create a Year in Review that accurately depicts their year, no matter what kind of memories they want to highlight," the spokesman added.

You can view your own Year in Review through your Facebook News Feed or catch it via a dedicated page. You can also share your Year in Review with your Facebook friends so they can watch the journey life took you on throughout the year.