Facebook's 'friend anniversary' posts are driving me insane

Nathan McAlone

Sep 12, 2016, 9:32 AM

Facebook has made a bunch of changes to your News Feed in recent months, notably pushing you toward videos and posts from your friends and family.

But Facebook is heavily favoring one particular type of post that is driving me crazy: the Facebook friend anniversary (aka the “friend-iversary”).

If you aren’t familiar with the “friend anniversary,” here’s what it is.

On a particular anniversary of your Facebook friends with another person, say 5 years, Facebook will post to your Facebook feed a video or photo it auto-created that blends animations with photos and emoticons depicting the course of your Facebook friendship.

I understand why Facebook wants to give people the option of sharing these: it combines the company’s twin obsessions of video and user-generated posts.

But why Facebook is increasingly shoving these repetitive videos and photos of “you have been friends with x amount of years” to the top of my feed when I open Facebook is beyond me. I repeatedly hide these types of posts, yet they still continue to show up like an unwanted welcome mat to Facebook, and a quick office poll showed that my colleagues were experiencing a similar increase in prominence.

The most confounding part is that many of these videos are of people’s friendships where I only know one of the parties involved. Assuming I even wanted to see a recap of the friendship of two people I knew, why on Earth would I want to see a photo slideshow recap of the friendship of my friend with someone I don’t know?

It’s nice that my friend has been Facebook friends with some random person for five years, but this truly does not mean anything to me, and certainly would not be my first choice to see at the top of Facebook when I wake up in the morning.

Which brings me to my main point: shouldn’t Facebook know I don’t want this? Over the last year, some of the changes Facebook has made in its News Feed don’t feel reflective of a greater personalization, or a greater utility that I’m getting out of the service.

My colleague Jillian D’Onfro wrote about a similar experience last month while searching for a way to stem the tide of minute-long videos that Facebook is currently cramming down our collective throats. Unlike Mark Zuckerberg, she doesn’t really like them and found a way to stop them by continuously hiding them.

Facebook is a profit-making enterprise, and is free to do whatever it thinks will create the most value for its shareholders. But it does feel, to me, like the correlation between what Facebook content I actually like and what Facebook content is getting put in my News Feed has gone down. My News Feed has stopped getting better, and is getting worse.

I’ve reached out to Facebook for a comment on why “friend anniversary” posts seem to be getting so much favor in the News Feed. Perhaps Facebook has seen that types of posts have increased engagement, but from what I have seen, that was not clearly the case.