Facebook may be seen as a time-suck -- and it is. But Facebook also wants you to remember that time in your timeline is well-spent, and delivers returns in the form of recalled memories and connections with friends and family members.
Starting Thursday, Facebook users will see a personalized video that pulls together highlights of their experiences with friends — ones that they have already chosen to share on Facebook. It's all part of the social network's 12th birthday, what the company is calling “Friends Day." Users will also be able to edit the content and then choose to publicly share these videos that are curated by Facebook’s algorithm.
Other special releases for Facebook’s birthday include two new sticker packs called “Best Friends” and “Friendship.” Facebook users can download these for free in the Sticker Store on Facebook Messenger.
Over its more than decade-long history, Facebook has been iterating its product to make memories more accessible. That comes with the company branding itself as the single place for your life updates and interests while simultaneously bolstering its advertising options. In March, Facebook released “On This Day,” a tool that brings moments from years past to the top of users’ News Feeds. In June, Facebook introduced Moments as a way to share photo albums and trips with friends.
The ability to edit the "Friends Day" slideshow is a stark contrast from Facebook’s algorithm-driven, year-end montages from 2014 that landed the company in trouble for surfacing negative memories. Since then, Facebook created a tool for making breakups easier as well as more editing preferences.
Facebook’s latest feature is an effort to show how the network is the home of memories as well as tout its ability to connect the world. Facebook now has 1.59 billion monthly active users, the company reported last week. Over the last five years, the degree of separation between Facebook users has fallen from 3.74 to 3.57.
Facebook’s management team has followed in this path of telling stories and connecting people. When WhatsApp announced it had reached 1 billion users, Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg shared a post about how the doctors of a 16-year-old girl in Mumbai, India, used WhatsApp to find her an organ transplant. “When a donor was discovered hundreds of miles away, the medics acted fast. They used a WhatsApp group to coordinate organ donations and organize transport,” Sandberg wrote.
Friends Day isn’t brand new to Facebook. CEO Mark Zuckerberg proclaimed the same holiday last year, yet this time there is more to celebrate. Earlier this week, Facebook invited guests from overseas and across the country to share their stories.
“We figured that rather than having this birthday that focuses on us, we should make sure that the world focus on what’s important that’s actually happening, which are only stories of how people are connecting around the world and it’s just amazing and it’s inspiring to hear,” Zuckerberg said at the event at Facebook's headquarters in Menlo Park, California.
“I want to say thank you to all of you for the inspiration because this is why we exist and there is nothing we would rather do than celebrate our birthday with you,” Sandberg said.
Besides sharing memories and stickers from friend to friend, Facebook is also pushing its other initiatives for connecting online. That includes the growth of Groups on Facebook. Zuckerberg’s running group, A Year Of Running, has reached over 100,000 members, and in January, Facebook announced that more than 1 billion people use Groups every month.