Facebook are always trying to tell you who your friends are. Whether it’s the hidden algorithms that determine whose updates appear on your Wall or the “Memories” that remind you of a time before all your uni mates moved back home, the website thinks it has you all figured out. 2016’s “Friends Day” collages are robotkind’s latest attempt to understand human relationships, and it’s gone about as well as you can expect.
Well on the path to world domination, the site already celebrates its own birthday as one of the most cringey holidays ever. It’s a “day to appreciate all the people important people in your lives” and this year the company went one further, giving everybody a special video of all their special Facebook™ friendships. Hooray™.
Remembering all those times you laughed at salad with your pals.
Except it turns out that a blanket algorithm applied to everyone doesn’t actually know who your real friends are; videos included such unforgettable highlights as that one night you went to the pub, that group photo full of people you never spoke to again, and your own birthday.
Some users reported being bombarded with photos of exes and friends they’d broken up with, while others couldn’t recognise a single one of their “friends”.
Just did that ‘happy friends day’ thing on facebook. It managed to get 3 of my ex’s in the space of about 10 photos. I love you too facebook
— Luke Franks (@luke_franks) February 4, 2016
I just did that “Happy Friends Day” montage on Facebook and didn’t recognise ANYONE in the video.
— Emma Gannon (@girllostincity) February 4, 2016
I physically can’t share my happy friends day video on Facebook due to the atrocities they decided to include in it
— Rob Bolt (@rob_bolt) February 4, 2016
In an era when more of us are using the site than ever before, how did Facebook get things so wrong?
Well, unfortunately for creepy one-time gimmick videos (and fortunately for real human beings), most of us base our real-life relationships on more than just photo comments and status likes. Zuckerberg would like to think we’re living our lives on Facebook, but does anybody actually do this?
We don’t upload a cheeky selfie every time we bump into a friend and say hello, or put up a status every time we talk to each other and say something funny. Some of your friends may (gasp!) not even be on Facebook, while most of your online friends haven’t seen you IRL in years – if ever!
The “Friends Day” sentiment seems nice and innocent on the surface, but the reality is it boils your friends down to digital accessories to be collected and showcased, and implies that the only people that matter are the ones that you exchange likes with on a social media platform.
When it goes right, it’s a self-centred and narcissistic celebration of your own personal magnetism, and when it goes wrong it can remind you of the people who’ve lost touch, fallen out or passed away over the years.
Oh, and all those shitty videos flooding your Timeline? They’re actually drowning out appeals to fund cancer research on World Cancer Day. Way to go, Facey B.