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Facebook apologizes for "Year in Review" that highlighted family tragedy

The "Year in Review" is supposed to help you share the best moments of 2014, but good intentions led to awkward moments and, in one case, an apology by Facebook
No thanks for the memories: Facebook gets blowback for "Year in Review" 03:31

Facebook's "Year in Review" was intended to highlight and herald your best moments of 2014. But for some, the feature only brought back bad memories of the past 12 months.

"They started to push it out there and people started to get annoyed. They thought it was sappy, they thought it was generic. People weren't really into it," editor Nicholas Thompson told "CBS This Morning."

"Then in that climate of negativity, a lot of bad things started to pop up -- people whose year in review featured a cover photo of their dead pet or their burning apartment," he said. "Then one story went very viral and that was a story of a man whose daughter had died ... That story got shared everywhere and caused a lot of problems for Facebook."

"To show me Rebecca's face and say 'Here's what your year looked like!' is jarring," said the father, web designer and writer Eric Meyer, in a blog post. "It feels wrong, and coming from an actual person, it would be wrong. Coming from code, it's just unfortunate."

Why Facebook is apologizing for "Year In Review" timelines 02:11

Meyer said that he received email from Jonathan Gheller, product manager of the Year in Review team at Facebook, apologizing for the disturbing outcome of the algorithm that used the popularity of photos to compile albums.

Thompson said the feature illustrates the pitfalls of Facebook's strategy of trying to make all its users photos and data public -- even when they would rather have it private.

"My year in review is of course pictures of my children and all sorts of other things. But all of these are things I had marked private," he said. "I went to share my year in review and, of course, Facebook defaulted to make it public. So instead of just going to my friends, it goes to 100,000 people. I had to quickly say, oh wait no I don't want that to happen. That is just the way Facebook operates. It's always pushing the line."

Thompson said Facebook wants you to share as much about yourself as possible, and as publicly as possible. It's integral to their business strategy. The more they know about you, he said, the easier it will be for them to target their ads.

"If for example it knows I have kids and there are comments about when their birthdays are, it can then have ads selling me stuff to get them for their birthdays or whatever," he said.

Then, how do you limit these kinds of intrusions from Facebook?

Thompson said the only solution is to make your privacy settings "more restrictive than you think you might need to do."

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