You Can Now Edit Your Cheesy Facebook "Look Back" Video

The Citizen's Guide to the Future
Feb. 7 2014 4:24 PM

You Can Now Edit Your Cheesy Facebook "Look Back" Video

screen_shot_20140207_at_2.39.38_pm
Now you can tailor the schmaltz that comes after this blue screen.

From Facebook.

In honor of its 10th birthday, Facebook released an automatic video generator called "Look Back" that pulls popular photos and statuses from a user's Facebook history and turns them into a sentimental puddle that's ripe for sharing. But even people who like the intense sentimentality have been complaining about the videos because they're bad. The algorithms behind the service have their digital hearts in the right place but definitely make mistakes. So Facebook added an edit button today.

Take, for example, my original Look Back video (below). The video rightly states that I joined Facebook in 2006 but can't dig back to my early stuff for some reason and instead shows photos from 2010 and 2011 as my "first moments." Also I think I've only made the peace sign for two photos ever, and both are in my Look Back video. The algorithms behind the video were also unable to find a bunch of my posts that are actually my most "liked."

Advertisement

The edit button can't solve all of these problems, but it can help. It doesn't actually give you full access to all of your photos or posts and instead provides a sampling to pick from. So for the first-moments issue, I can't really change anything because none of the photos it offers me are actually old. I guess it would involve too much data processing and load time to make our entire histories available in the video editor, though this seems incongruous since we can scroll back through all of our posts and videos anytime we want.

As TechCrunch reported, Facebook had been planning to release Look Back with an editing feature all along, but the tool wasn't complete by the anniversary, so Look Back launched without it. There may be fewer limitations at some point if the edit feature is further improved, and the choices that are currently there certainly offer better ability to tailor our online personas so we look maximally fun, popular, cool, etc.

The edit button signals that we haven't seen the last of automated Facebook videos incorporating our content. Since extensive development went into the product, Facebook may keep it around in modified forms for things like year-end retrospectives. Facebook already customizes "Year in Review" content roundups for each user, and the company may be trying to compete with Google Plus' Auto Awesome feature, which created short, custom slideshows for each active user at the end of 2013. Depending on your view, this is either companies' appeals to our love of saccharine reminiscence or a not-so-subtle reminder that they hold data we're emotionally attached to.

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

Lily Hay Newman is lead blogger for Future Tense.

TODAY IN SLATE

Foreigners

The World’s Politest Protesters

The Occupy Central demonstrators are courteous. That’s actually what makes them so dangerous.

The Religious Right Is Not Happy With Republicans  

The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 4:58 PM The Religious Right Is Not Happy With Republicans  

How Did the Royals Win Despite Bunting So Many Times? Bunting Is a Terrible Strategy.

Federal Law Enforcement Has Declared War on Encryption

Justice and the FBI really do not like Apple’s and Google’s new privacy measures.

Homeland Is Good Again! For Now.

Crime

Operation Backbone

How White Boy Rick, a legendary Detroit cocaine dealer, helped the FBI uncover brazen police corruption.

Music

How Even an Old Hipster Can Age Gracefully

On their new albums, Leonard Cohen, Robert Plant, and Loudon Wainwright III show three ways.

The One Fact About Ebola That Should Calm You: It Spreads Slowly

Piper Kerman on Why She Dressed Like a Hitchcock Heroine for Her Prison Sentencing

  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 1 2014 7:26 PM Talking White Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 1 2014 2:16 PM Wall Street Tackles Chat Services, Shies Away From Diversity Issues 
  Life
Outward
Oct. 1 2014 6:02 PM Facebook Relaxes Its “Real Name” Policy; Drag Queens Celebrate
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 5:11 PM Celebrity Feminist Identification Has Reached Peak Meaninglessness
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 3:24 PM Revelry (and Business) at Mohonk Photos and highlights from Slate’s annual retreat.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 6:39 PM Spoiler Special: Transparent
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 6:59 PM EU’s Next Digital Commissioner Thinks Keeping Nude Celeb Photos in the Cloud Is “Stupid”
  Health & Science
Science
Oct. 1 2014 4:03 PM Does the Earth Really Have a “Hum”? Yes, but probably not the one you’re thinking.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 1 2014 5:19 PM Bunt-a-Palooza! How bad was the Kansas City Royals’ bunt-all-the-time strategy in the American League wild-card game?