Ever since Facebook started gaining serious traction in the social network business, it has continuously experimented with various ways to bring old online memories to the present.
We all remember the introduction of Timeline, which allows users to easily pinpoint various years from their online activity. Although it received a lot of negative response for its apparent messy approach, Timeline steadily won the hearts of Facebook users.
There are also the ever-changing New Year features, which make a quick summary of your activity from the last 12 months and present them in new ways each year. But after Facebook saw Timehop reach 6 million daily users on mobile, it decided it was time to launch its own nostalgia tool, aka “On This Day.”
It is really easy to use, as its sole purpose is to show users what they have posted in past years on the current date, reminding them of the picture they added exactly two years ago, or a friend’s birthday wish from four years ago.
On This Day will gradually become available worldwide over the week, and users will be able to access it from all over Facebook: on https://www.facebook.com/onthisday, in the search bar, in Facebook’s bookmarks menu, through News Feed stories, or notifications showing up on iOS, Android, desktop and mobile web.
Timehop versus On This Day
The main difference between Timehop and Facebook’s new feature is that Timehop has the possibility of digging through your stocked memories on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Flickr, Dropbox, Foursquare, iPhoto and your camera roll, while On This Day is drastically limited on Facebook.
During the announcing of On This Day, Jonathan Gheller, the company’s product manager responsible for the feature, did not mention Timehop as an inspiration source, claiming that various community behaviors were observed and led to a sustain effort of building something new on top of them.
After three attempts of connecting On This Day and Timehop based on similar features, Gheller eventually admitted that observing what employees at Facebook spend their time on (ahem Timehop ahem) might have been an inspiration, adding that the company is set on giving users what they want in the best way they can.
So far, Facebook has no intention of making On This Day a source of revenue, at least not directly. Their strategy is to attract people to use the feature, which will generally prompt reshares of older posts. Consequently, users will be even more engaged with Facebook’s News Feed, which is basically the nest of the golden goose of ads.
The tech giant is most likely hoping that Timehop has yet to reach many of their 890 million daily users, which means On This Day will appear to be a new and interesting tool, allowing them to access and be nostalgic (or terrified, to each his own) about old Facebook memories.
In spite of what the public might believe, Jonathan Wegener, Timehop CEO, did not show particular concern over the news. He gave a statement upon hearing of On This Day saying that Facebook’s feature only confirms that whatever Timehop is doing, is doing it well enough that Facebook decided to be inspired by it.
One of Timehop investors also commented saying that if Facebook isn’t trying to take over whatever field you’re working in, you might not be doing something worth doing. Therefore, the Timehop team appears to be pleased rather than worried.
Wegener used this opportunity to remind everyone that Timehop’s vision is way broader than what Facebook has set to do, which is revisiting your past content. Timehop collects your digital footprint from everywhere in the online world. Facebook’s feature isn’t perceived as scary, but as an appreciative nod for the good job Timehop is doing.
Depending on your location, On This Day will start being available over the next days, appearing as a bookmark in the Facebook web sidebar or the app’s menu. Clicking on it will link you to a window showing you all the Facebook content (photos, posts, status updates) you added or you were tagged in from exactly one or more years ago.
Sensitive revisiting of past memories
Users should be relieved to find that these resurfaced posts are visible only to the one accessing the feature, unless they choose to share them again with their friends. The On This Day page will also allow users to subscribe to daily reminders to take a few minutes and go down on memory lane’s feed.
During the announcement, Gheller gave examples from his own Facebook account, showing one year old photos of his child and various status updates from when his wife was pregnant. He added that Facebook has been toying with the memory-lane idea for a few years now, making a swift reference to Memories. The product has returned in a refined form and is ready for some external testing internationally.
Facebook seems to be more sensitive with the new feature, learning from past mistakes. The New Year tool called Year In Review received a lot of negative feedback, with users complaining that they were sometimes reminded of painful memories of ex-lovers and friends who have passed away.
That’s why On This Day has improved rules, designed to avoid such emotional triggers. The algorithm was created in such a way that the feature won’t show you posts and pictures of people you have added, and then removed, from the “In a Relationship” category. It will also carefully screen and avoid reminding users of memories of deceased friends.
At the end of the announcement event, Gheller explained why having this tool on Facebook is so important. He said that revisiting past memories and reminding our friends of common experiences helps us reconsider and appreciate our relationships; it helps friends and families reconnect.
Image Source: College Calendar