JOSE, Calif. ó Donít go breaking my heart, Facebook.
a sentiment shared by people like 48-year-old San Jose
resident Beth Burkley, who gets caught off guard when
she sees reminders of her ex pop up on social media.
have a couple of ex boyfriends that Iím still friends
with on Facebook. We keep in touch," she said.
there are others who I hope if I ever run into them
again, itís the front end of my car," she
Facebook and other social sites are trying to come up
with new tools so users have more control over the old
photos and posts they see.
every trip down memory lane is a sweet one, and Facebook
has been digging up the past more often lately. In 2015,
it released a new feature called "On This Day"
that shows users photos and posts from years past. The
tech firm also strings together old images in collages
for a "Year in Review" or in videos to
celebrate other occasions. Apps such as Timehop or
Memoir jog memories by displaying pictures of posts from
a certain day. Even music streaming service Spotify
gives users a way to look back on the songs they
listened to in the last year.
donít really organize our digital stuff particularly
well, and so a lot of it is in rather unexpected places.
It might not be a Facebook post or status update you
might encounter, it could be music and photos in a
different place," said Steve Whittaker, a
University of California at Santa Cruz psychology
professor who has studied how people dispose of their
digital possessions ó or fail to dispose of them ó
after a breakup.
disorganization, he said, makes it harder for some
people to deal with unexpected reminders of past
relationships online, especially if they were the ones
old photos isnít new. People often post photos from
their past, mainly from their childhood, every week on
"Throwback Thursday." But social media
companies are also plumbing the past and offering photos
or posts they think their users want to see. That makes
online nostalgia tougher for users to control. With
Facebookís plans to make social media more immersive
through virtual reality, avoiding tough emotions for its
1.6 billion users could become even trickier down the
November, the Menlo Park tech firm said it was testing a
new tool that allows users to see fewer posts and photos
of their exes without having to unfriend or block them.
There are also ways to filter out people and dates from
Facebookís "On This Day" feature. Google has
a tool on its photo app so people can hide images they
donít want to see. Apps such as Timehop have shown
users a notice about using the service on Valentineís
Day, warning "Danger: exes and feels."
reminding you of great memories and helping you navigate
a breakup to helping find loved ones in times of crisis
ó Facebook is providing resources that help people
control their overall experience on Facebook,
particularly during difficult points in their
lives," the company said in a statement. "For
many people, the end of a romantic relationship can be
one of those times. We hope this will provide some
helpful options for people who may be looking to change
how they interact with their former partners."
Harrell remembers posting a photo of a girlfriend
wearing his fedora on the social media site. When they
broke up, the Arizona financial consultant and musician
couldnít physically toss the digital image in a
cardboard box, but he didnít want to press the delete
button either. Years later, Facebook reminded him of the
same photo shared on that day and emotions came flooding
had some great relationships, but that one was a little
rocky. I typically stay in contact with most of my exes
because in all reality, I started caring about them for
a reason. We just more or less did not see eye to eye on
certain opinions," Harrell said. "When I saw
that post, it was one of the not so great ones."
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29-year-old doesnít filter out or delete photos on
Facebook after a breakup. Even though seeing remnants of
the past reminds him of the good and bad, it also helps
him to reflect on relationship issues such as
it kind of bugged me at first, but with me being a
positive thinker, I more or less thought about what I
got out of it more than anything else," he said.
"Some of it makes me realize how big of a kid I was
at one point."
grief or separation, Whittaker found that people deal
with breakups on social media in different ways. Some
try to delete all traces of their ex or reminders of
their past relationships. Others keep the digital
possessions, wallow and continue to monitor or "Facebook
stalk" their ex. Another group of people retained
the photos and posts, but only looked at the material
when they felt ready.
know that people are different in the ways they deal
with separation and grief. What I think is not known is
what the optimal strategy is, and thereís some
interesting work that suggests that after a while, itís
a good idea to engage with an upsetting experience
rather than denying or repressing it. Thatís something
that weíve been interested in exploring in our own
research," he said.
doesnít want to see memories pop up on social media.
Breakups in the digital age are so public that sheís
more cautious about sharing details about her romantic
relationships on Facebook.
like a dead cat or seeing something about my mother who
passed away five years ago," she said. "I donít
need to see that in my Facebook feed."
never discarded jewelry and jokes to her friends that
her leather jacket is a parting gift from an ex.
reminiscing with old photos? Forget about it.
is testing a new tool that allows users to see fewer
pictures and posts of their ex without unfriending or
blocking them, after they change their relationship
status. It also allows people to limit photos or status
updates an ex sees. You can also filter an ex or a
specific day out of any "On This Day" story by
going to Facebook.com/onthisday, clicking
"Preferences" and adding them to your filters.
People can also unfollow, block or unfriend exes.
Google Photos, if you donít want to see a certain
personís face on your search page, you can remove it
by opening the app, touching the search icon in the
bottom right, touch the options icon at the top right
that says "Hide & show people," touch the
people you want to hide and then hit done. It will also
remove them from the "Rediscover this day"
cards that appear and remind users of memories from a
day in the past.