Facebook didn't pull out all the stops for its 10th birthday, celebrating with a quiet thank-you note from CEO Mark Zuckerberg. But Facebook users did get something out of the social network turning the big 1-0: a personalized video assembled on the fly that calls out the highlights of your time on Facebook.
Your video, called "Look Back," includes your first moments, the photos you've shared, and your most-liked status updates, all set to a soundtrack straight out of Terms of Endearment. The 1-minute walk down memory lane is a little bit cheeseball, but if you've been a Facebook user since the old days — my own highlight reel dated back nine years — it's also a feel-good piece of nostalgia.
The network likes to offer "Year in Review" recaps, but those are formatted in photos. Facebook engineering lead Nick Kwiatek told The Verge that "Look Back" is the network's largest video project that requires coordination between different teams and weeks of prep.
"One of the things that motivated us was that there's really only a handful of companies that could take on something like this — that could render videos for as many people as we can," he told the tech blog.
Of course you can share your personal "Look Back" videos with your friends, which Facebook users wasted no time in doing. Expect your feed to be clogged for a few more days as people continue to discover the feature.
Zuckerberg shared a nostalgic tribute to Facebook on his own page, reliving the heady early days of Facebook's existence.
"I remember getting pizza with my friends one night in college shortly after opening Facebook," he wrote. "I told them I was excited to help connect our school community, but one day someone needed to connect the whole world."
Connecting universities was Zuckerberg's early priority, but lately he's switched gears with new initiatives aimed at getting developing countries online — and, presumably, on Facebook.
"Look Back" was Facebook's present to its users. The network's gift to itself: A new app, Paper, that will light the way toward Facebook's mobile-first future.
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