Weird? Facebook’s New “On This Day” Feature Aims to ‘Rewire Us to the Past’


The Internet is obsessed with the now, the new, the “trending”: It takes only minutes for Facebook posts to fall out of our News Feeds or for tweets to disappear into the past. (On the ephemeral messaging app Snapchat, it takes even less time than that.) We are frantic with the pulse of the present; we are pummeled by the thunderous, unending cascade of breaking news.

And because that’s stressful and unpleasant and overwhelming, and one of the primary reasons people start floating phrases like “digital detox,” tech companies have sought to manufacture a solution to a problem that they themselves created: They want to return your sense of the past.

“Consuming memories from the past and resharing them rewires our relationships,” Facebook’s Jonathan Gheller told Techcrunch. “It really reconnects me in a profound and beautiful way.”

Facebook is the latest to get into the nostalgia game; on Tuesday, the company announced a new feature called “On This Day,” which will surface past status updates, photos and posts you’ve been tagged in to a designated page that only you can see. The feature is rolling out gradually, and not all users have access yet. (If you don’t want access, too bad: There’s apparently no way to entirely opt out of it.)

Facebook says it’s been testing the feature for several years, right in-step with other tech firms that exist to surface old content. Timehop, the app that “helps you celebrate the best moments of the past,” finished 2014 with 12 million users and claims to be the fastest-growing mobile start-up in New York.

Myspace tried to lure users back by reminding them how many of their old photos it had. According to some reports, in fact, Myspace owes its continued existence in part to Throwback Thursday: millions of people return to the site each week for old pictures to share on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. (#Tbt stats, as of this morning: 325 million all-time Instagrams, 1.6 million tweets since March 1.)

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SOURCE: Caitlin Dewey 
The Washington Post

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