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The Unforgettable Wedding (That Never Happened)

When Josh Centers first wrote about the Memories feature of Photos in iOS 10: A Take Control Crash Course, he warned that the resurfacing of old memories might be upsetting: “Memories are computer-generated and therefore can be sometimes stupid or insensitive in the photos they bring together.”

Unfortunately, the problem can be far more troubling than he had imagined. Lauren Goode, writing for Wired, is forever being reminded of the wedding she called off in 2019. Ads for wedding products still appear in her social media feeds, and both iCloud Photos and Google Photos regularly resurface pictures of her and her ex.

Pinterest’s Omar Seyal told her that the company calls this the “miscarriage problem.” Major life changes like weddings and births are incredibly valuable to advertisers, so they target them aggressively, but the ads keep coming even when those events don’t work out happily. Unfortunately, there is very little being done to address the issue.

Of course, at its heart, this isn’t a new problem. Josh’s dad died over 20 years ago, but his mom still receives mail addressed to him. His grandma’s husband passed away in the 1970s, but she received mail for him until her death at the end of 2019.

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Comments About The Unforgettable Wedding (That Never Happened)

Notable Replies

  1. I can’t say about the others, but you can control memories in Apple’s Photos.

    You can turn off Memory notifications completely, so you’re not bombarded with the memories when you turn on your iPhone. Plus, you can delete memories or ask Apple to assemble fewer memories like that one which includes people and places.

    Memories in Photos are usually based upon Date, People, Holiday, and Places, and aren’t based upon the fact you planned a wedding. The egg on the plate might hold a significant memory to you, but to Apple, it’s just an egg on a plate.

  2. Turn off Memories and similar bloat. Hand curate photos into albums. Give personal information (like weddings) only to your inner circle and on a need to know basis. Give up FB/Google et al. whenever and wherever you can. If you can’t or don’t, you need to start blocking ads rigorously. Lots to read up on if you want to get that right.

    If you spread your information too generously, it will 100% guaranteed come back to bite you.

    I remain convinced there is no really good technical solution to what is ultimately a legal/social problem.

  3. Well, that doesn’t work. You are planning a wedding. You need a venue, caterer, rentals, bakers, a officiant, invitations, hotel accommodations, travel plans, honeymoon plans. Etc etc. For most people their wedding is the most complicated most public and largest event in their lives.

    And generally memories and similar “bloat” are welcome, it’s just that some services make it very hard to control and none of them make it obvious (not even Apple, which has the best controls, hardly anyone will ever know this).

  4. Not so much about a wedding, but I lost a good friend last year, and we used to play on Xbox or Playstation often. Now, logging in, I see that Xbox likes to show his account in comparison to mine in gamer points. I mean, I don’t want to remove him from my friends list, along with another that passed a few years prior. It reminds me of them, along with good times we had. Part of me is glad they aren’t deleted yet another feels rather uncomfortable that if I don’t play any games on Xbox (or on PSN where he is also listed), the feature of Xbox Live is to show your friends, what they played last and your ranking. Algorithms indeed.

  5. Unfortunately, it’s been my experience the advertisers seem to have hit the sweet spot between incompetence and aggression.

    My step-daughter is attending college. My wife and I are the only ones who have ever dealt with the college and we are the only ones who have ever paid her college bills. But we get every issue of the college’s quarterly magazine addressed to her biological father at my address.

    We’ve checked and double-checked all of the student information databases we have access to and his name doesn’t appear anywhere. We’ve also complained to them, but nothing has changed.

    We’re at a complete loss how they would even have his name, let alone associate it with our address. I assume it’s some kind of data mining screwup. And since (I assume) nobody at the college actually understands what the software they paid for is actually doing, they’re powerless to correct its mistakes.

  6. Most colleges outsource the publishing and distribution of their periodicals and yearbooks, unless they are large enough to have their own printing facilities. The schools usually turn over their mailing lists every so often, and once the publishing company gets a hold of names, they keep them rolling. The schools usually don’t pay much attention, probably because the magazines exist because they are an excellent fund raising opportunity. The more families that get it, the better. But it might be worthwhile to find out the name of the publishing company and contact them directly.

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