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."
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.
TODAY IN SLATE
Forget Oculus Rift
This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.
The Congressional Republican Digging Through Scientists’ Grant Proposals
Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real
Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band
Can it be again?
Whole Foods Is Desperate for Customers to Feel Warm and Fuzzy Again
I’m 25. I Have $250.03.
My doctors want me to freeze my eggs.
- NSA Is Letting its Chief Technical Officer Work 20 Hours a Week for a Private Company
- After 13 Years of U.S. Occupation, Afghanistan Opium Production Is at an All-Time High
- The Pennsylvania Fugitive Sniper Is Still at Large After 39 Days
- Oscar Pistorius Sentenced to Five Years, May Only Serve Ten Months
Smash and Grab
Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?