Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Facebook apologizes for generating morbid 'Year in Review' result

Facebook product manager Jonathan Gheller apologized to a man who got a 'Year in Review' that featured a celebration-like design around his dead daughter.

 Facebook recently apologized to man for highlighting the loss of his child in his Facebook 'Year in Review.'

Product manager Jonathan Gheller apologized for having created more grief for Eric Meyer, a Web designer from Cleveland, after the app featured a picture of his dead daughter surrounded by a celebratory design.
Facebook product manager Jonathan Gheller apologized to a man who got a 'Year in Review' that featured...

Meyer lost his daughter to brain cancer on her sixth birthday.

He took his grief to his personal blog, where he wrote that Facebook's design and auto-post algorithm were ill-designed.

The app's generic message reads: "It's been a great year! Thanks for being a part of it."

The message is also accompanied by a user's picture and icons of people who seem to be at a party.

Meyer wrote that Facebook should consider redesigning the results since not everyone has had a happy year. He also suggested that Facebook let users opt out from such apps

When Facebook caught wind of Meyer's unhappiness, it reached out to apologize.

"The app was awesome for a lot of people, but clearly in this case we brought him grief rather than joy," Gheller told the Washington Post.

From a designer's perspective, Meyer thought Facebook should consider designing for crisis.

"It's valuable feedback," Gheller said. "We can do better — I'm very grateful he took the time in his grief to write the blog post."

Meyer wrote a follow-up post apologizing to Facebook once Gheller apologized. He said he didn't mean to victimize Facebook, but rather wanted to bring attention to the lack of worst-case scenarios in designing and programming algorithms.

"Taking worst-case scenarios into account is something that Web design does poorly and usually not at all," Meyer wrote. "I was using Facebook's Year in Review as an example, a timely and relevant foundation to talk about a much wider issue."

Meyer said that programmers and designers shouldn't make designs so generic and should think of all possibilities and outcomes.

Facebook did not comment on whether it would take Meyer's specific suggestions into consideration, but Gheller said it would try improve next year.