Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Facebook Lookback

As Mark Zuckerberg reflects upon Facebook's first 10 years today, he's encouraging the community he built to do the same. Starting this morning, hundreds of millions of Facebook users will receive a notification that a video summary of their life so far on Facebook is ready to watch. Each user's "Look Back" compilation contains 15 or so of their most-liked photos, statuses, and life events set to a catchy tune. The videos are a bit cheesy, but are potent reminders that for many of us, Facebook has become a very normal way to document our daily lives.

A small team at Facebook spent the last few months crafting the videos and ensuring that the company had the necessary resources to render hundreds of millions of HD videos and send them out to users. Facebook has issued Year In Review compilations before, after all, but never in video form. Two groups within Facebook played a particularly important role: Everstore, the team in charge of media storage, and Moonshot, the team tasked with allocating idle server power to doing some heavy lifting whenever possible.

Facebook's engineering lead on the project, Nick Kwiatek, calls Look Back one of the company's largest video projects of all time. "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 says. After spending several weeks optimizing the company's servers for the unusual task, his team effectively cut down the time required to render one video from 17 minutes to just one. The final result might look more like a Bar Mitzvah video than an epic montage of your life, but for most people, it will be worth watching. And if you look hard, you'll find Mark Zuckerberg's signature below each video. A lot has changed in 10 years, but perhaps one thing hasn't: the social network is still "A Mark Zuckerberg Production."

As a part of Facebook's 10th birthday, we're excited to announce "A Look Back". Starting on February 4, you can see some of your biggest moments on Facebook at