By Mike Snider, USA TODAY
Home movies are going viral.
Facebook feeds across the U.S. and beyond were taken over Wednesday by a festival of 1-minute films of user snapshots and highlights.
The timing couldn't have been more perfect. The "A Look Back" feature was created as part of the social network's10th anniversary, which was Tuesday. And on a frigid day around much of the U.S.,users converged around Facebook's digital hearth.
The not-so-wayback machine automatically draws from your Facebook activity - from when you joined to now. All you need to is go to theLook Back linkand the video begins. An initial photo collage is replaced by a "You joined in (year)" that includes a cameo photo of you from that year. Then comes a series of "Your first moments" and "Your most liked posts." The finish comes with several "Photos you've shared" and then a big thumbs-up.
Soon, Facebookwill allow users to edit their movies.
Once one friend posted a Facebook movie to their feed, it snowballed into the thousands. "My Facebook newsfeed is clogged up with everyone's "lookback" videos. Waaah!!!" said Robby MacBeath on Twitter.
Facebook could not provide exact numbers of how many movies were viewed, but "hundreds of millions of movies were rendered and have been rolling out since yesterday," said Facebook spokesperson Mandy Zibart.
The idea originated internally, she says, from a small group of employees "who wanted to build something as a small gesture to thank the over one billion people who are on Facebook by providing a unique way to look back at some of their biggest moments."
Most Facebook users enjoyed their trip down memory lane on the social network. "It was a pleasant reminder of how far I've come in four years," said Amber Sager of savings site Offers.com. "All my friends are posting theirs."
TV journalist Victor Lucas agreed that "it is delightful to tour through memories like that, especially if part way through I get to see my announcement of my wife's pregnancy and then an image of my daughter on her first day with us. Can't help but be moved by that!"
On the other hand, Lucas says, "the only thing that stings a bit is how much we're aware that Facebook is trying to monetize around our personal information."
While the project had to be costly, it probably paid off for Facebook, says Wedbush Securities analyst Shyam Patil. "Anecdotally, I've generally heard positive feedback from users and quite a bit of sharing."
Facebook plans to add an editing feature in the coming days "to change moments in their movies or update the ones they shared," Zibart says.
That could set off a new round of Facebook movie remakes. That's because some videos had some glaring omissions. "It was a clever idea, but it didn't really capture my life," says Jeff Pomeroy, president of a public relations firm. "It highlighted photos of me and my son and completely left out the many images of my wife and two daughters! I've seen others on Facebook with the same 'doghouse' complaint from their spouses, like we put them together ourselves."