Facebook has once again stuck its algorithmic foot in it, after a user revealed the social network featured a dancing cartoon on a picture of the grave of his mother.


Comic book writer Patrick Gerard shared an image of a still from Facebook’s ‘share a memory’ video, showing a cartoon of a woman standing on a grave. 

“I just literally got shown a bunch of happy cartoon characters dancing on my mom’s grave,” Mr Gerard wrote on Twitter, together with an emoji of someone holding their head in their hand.

The animation was presumably automatically triggered by Facebook’s algorithm due to the number of ‘love’ reactions the picture received when it was posted, as it was captioned: “Most loved photo from 2016.”

In a series of follow-up tweets, Mr Gerard said: “If she were alive and this happened to somebody else, I guarantee she and I would spend 45 minutes talking about it. We tended to dissect ghastly business practices.”

It is not the first time Facebook has made a “weird call”, he revealed, saying: “When my roommate got murdered in 2007, they deleted his profile before the funeral because their policy was ‘no profiles for dead people’. They’ve changed policy since but it made coordinating confusing.”

His original tweet, which was shared more than 2,000 times, prompted others to share their own stories of tech companies acting in poor taste.

The social network also faced criticism in 2014 when its Year in Review feature suggested a picture of someone’s house burning down, while another user said it showed a photograph of his recently-deceased daughter.

Facebook apologised at the time, saying: “Clearly in this case we brought him grief rather than joy. It’s valuable feedback. We can do better.”

The feature was subsequently tweaked so it stated, “see you next year”, instead of “It’s been a great year! Thanks for being a part of it.”

More recently, Facebook was forced to apologise for adorning balloons and confetti on posts by survivors of a deadly earthquake in Indonesia.

In that instance, the fault also lay with Facebook’s algorithm, which was programmed to trigger animations when the word ‘salemat’ was written in a post. Unfortunately, ‘salemat’ means both ‘congratulations’ and ‘unhurt’ in Indonesian. 

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