Facebook Changes Photo Memories to No Longer Show Your Ex-Boyfriends or Ex-Girlfriends

In response to numerous complaints, Facebook has changed its Photo Memories sidebar module to no longer display friends who a user was formally listed as in a relationship with. The feature shows thumbnails of old photos tagged with friends while a user browse photos, friends, or other sections of the site, but often made users sad by showing them images of their ex-boyfriends or ex-girlfriends.

The algorithm that determines whose photos are shown in Photo Memories relied on which friends you frequently interact with on Facebook. Users typically interact heavily with their boyfriends and girlfriends, leading the feature to disproportionately show them. After users had severed their relationship, both in real life and on Facebook, Photo Memories would still show users their former significant others, making it difficult for people to get over them.

Our initial post about Photo Memories received dozens of heartfelt pleas for more control over the feature, or the ability to turn it off. For example, a commenter  named Julie said, “It keeps showing pics of my ex and their new significant other and it makes me sick! I’m still in love and I’m trying to move on but it’s ridiculously hard when every time I log on, their face pops up on the right hand of screen.” An old Facebook group deploring the feature reached over 500 members.

Last night, Facebook’s project manager in charge of photos, Sam Odio, commented on the post saying, “Hi All – I’d like to let you know that we’re listening to your feedback. The photo memories product no longer shows tagged photos of your friends if you were previously in a relationship with them.” While users may still see Photo Memories of their former romantic partners if they didn’t declare the relationship on Facebook, as well of their current partner with that person’s former partners, the change should help heal the heartache for many users.

On behalf of our commenters we’d like to thank Facebook for being so attentive. We’d also like to remind users that they’re welcome to express their opinions about Facebook features on our comment reels.

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42 Responses to “Facebook Changes Photo Memories to No Longer Show Your Ex-Boyfriends or Ex-Girlfriends”

  1. Facebook Stops Posting Photo Memories Of Your Ex says:

    [...] Fortunately, Facebook has fixed the problem. According to an update posted to the group, which was first pointed out by Josh Constine, Facebook is no longer displaying ex-boyfriends and girlfriends. Sam Odio of Facebook posted a [...]

  2. Dale Larson says:

    Facebook really just needs a way to let ME say who I want to see more of or less of with each item I see from them, be it in photo memories or the newsfeed. Let me tune the algorithm for myself! It’s great that they have an algorithm that often gets it right, but there are too many places that it falls flat — the friends who don’t post often are crowded out by the friends who do, the people I feel closer to but don’t interact with as much on Facebook (so don’t get picked up by the algorithm), the people who don’t feel as close anymore (even if they weren’t marked as “in a relationship” and then not).

  3. Scott Rafer says:

    who a user was *forMERly* listed as in a relationship with,

    or to be super picky

    with whom a user formerly listed a relationship.

  4. S Johnson says:

    No, I think they mean formally – meaning, you actually went and officially listed yourself in a relationship, made it “formal” in the facebook world.

  5. Josh says:

    Real nice. So instead of letting us control it, they just turn it off.

    So those of us who have had spouses pass away at an untimely young age won’t have the photo memories appear any longer. Wow… just… wow.

  6. Facebook Will Help You Forget Lost Loves | Techi.com says:

    [...] to Inside Facebook, Facebook will no longer be displaying those you’ve previously been ‘In A Relationship [...]

  7. Audrey says:

    What about an ex with whom the relationship status was never officially stated on facebook? He keeps popping up on the side, every single page. We really should just have control over this.

    I remember a couple years ago we used to be able to control what alerts or information we saw for each specific person in our feed– why is that gone now?

    A return of that sort of personal control would be best.

  8. Facebook ahoara te ayuda a olvidar tu ex-pareja. | GeeksRoom says:

    [...] insidefacebook] Este artículo fué escrito por Gustavo Martinez MeneameBitacorasRedditDeliciousGoogle [...]

  9. Clara says:

    I ‘married’ a bunch of my girl friends back in high school. This is annoying. If there’s anyone’s random pictures I want to see, it’s theirs.

    But I’m not much of a fan of this feature in general. Why would I want to see random summer camp pictures of my close-ish acquaintances from 2006?
    Who suggested that I cared?
    If I want to facebook stalk someone, I’ll do it on my own terms.

  10. Molly says:

    It’s a good change for the most part, but give us a choice, please. Some of us stay friends (or become friends) with people we used to date. How about a feature that automatically hides your ex’s photos right after the breakup (when feelings are raw), but gives you the option to show them again later when the wounds have healed?

    Dale, Facebook used to have an option (a year or two ago) where you could tune the frequency of stories from each friend. You could click a friend’s name in your news feed and click to show more or fewer updates from that friend. I miss that feature. My work-around now is a few friend lists, one for family, one for closest friends, so I can click on those to see the updates from my best buds who don’t post often. There’s still a problem where my 10-posts-a-day friends drown out my 1-post-a-week friends. Has anybody been able to tweak it further?

  11. Sam Odio says:

    Thanks for the feedback guys. While it might not seem like people listen at “big companies,” I can promise you that’s not the case! At least it isn’t for Facebook.

    I noticed some commenters aren’t happy that we no longer show previous relationships. Unfortunately we have to strike the right balance. Power users (like everyone here) want the ability to tweak the “photo memories” settings. However the average user feels that Facebook is *already* too complicated.

    I’ll talk to the team about ways we can make the interface more powerful, but there probably isn’t much we can do.


  12. carey says:

    Just make it an option. My issue is that I don’t want pics of my children showing up randomly on other people’s pages nor do I want to randomly see pictures of other people that are not MY photo memories but THEIR photo memories.

  13. facebook application development says:

    but the thing is if user do not want to change there pics???

  14. Ilan says:

    So now I have to let Facebook know of my past relationships so it won’t divulge pictures of me with them? What’s next? Maybe stating the exact nature of the relationship, how long we’ve been together, whether the relationship was physical or not, and whether I cheated during that time? I’m sure the algorithm can be vastly improved if it knew all these pieces of information.

    Why can’t I just have a black list – don’t show me near these people, and be done with it?

  15. Facebook ya no mostrará fotos de tus “ex” says:

    [...] Así lo anunció el gerente de proyectos de fotografía de Facebook, Sam Odio, en el blog Insidefacebook. SuscríbeteRecibe gratis las noticias en tu e-mail. Por gloriasedano Leer más: [...]

  16. Rosandra says:

    I’d definitely like some controls or, even better, an option to disable. I had to delete photos of friends containing people I don’t want to see because those photos kept coming up. That didn’t even help because similar photos in other’s albums keep showing up.

  17. Josh says:

    Sam, I understand that you need to balance “having things too confusing” with making things attractive for the power users. But this is not something to be taken lightly, especially considering Facebook’s habit of randomly putting random photos on random walls.

    So Carey brought up a good point about not wanting his or her *minor* children appearing on the profiles of random strangers. And I brought up the point that I would *like* to see picture memories of my late wife show up on my profile, even though we’re not listed as ‘in a relationship’. Both of these circumstances have psychological, legal, and other implications that are far more important than the fact that a million simpletons can’t be bothered to tweak a new knob.

    And really – you don’t have to expose those controls to people who don’t want them. Let the “average user” have their “average life” with those intrusions that the rest of us consider annoying. They don’t have to tweak the knobs or even know the knobs exist. But for the rest of us who do want that control, it will provide immense value.

    Let me know when you’ve fixed this so I can start using FB again. You have my e-mail address.

  18. JC says:

    I broke up with my girlfriend a long time ago, we were separated only for 7 hours then we got back together in real life and on FB. Now with this photo memories update I can no longer see the photos I liked most of her in that place.. I think you should re-edit that algorithm so every couple who broke up and got back together like me and my girlfriend wont get affected. please excuse any misspelling and my poor english, I just want to see her photos in there again.

  19. matt says:

    Just make it an option, it’s that simple. My girlfriend of a year dumped me and we were never listed out relationship status and her photos keep popping up. This just isn’t the way it should be.

  20. Alice says:

    It is not all about our previous relationships.
    I just had a miscarriage and I am forced several times a day to see photos of my girlfriends from time they were pregnant.

    “Thank you” very much Facebook for forcing that on me…

  21. Felix says:

    All I can say about this is that it is shocking to see so many grammatical errors in one short statement! “to no longer display friends who a user was formally listed as in a relationship with.” I can’t believe it!

    This should have read “no longer to display friends with WHOM the user was FORMERLY in a relationship

  22. jv says:

    my problem is i keep seeing my boyfriend in photos posted by his ex’s from waaaay back. I don’t want to ask him to untag himself from each and every photo. can’t i just have the option to turn off the photo memories feature?

  23. Mark says:

    Screw tweaking. Give people the option to disable it entirely. I’d rather not constantly be shown pictures of my current girlfriend with her ex from a few years ago. I’ve seen/heard far more complaints about this feature than positive feedback. Bully for your “great” idea FB, just let me turn it off.

  24. Josh Constine says:

    @Felix: Thanks for the pointer, but a user must list their relationship on Facebook in order for Facebook to exclude their ex from Photo Memories.

  25. AnneHyphenMarie says:


    I think we are all just asking for the option to disable the photo memories feature. It’s not complicated. It’s one more button. You’ve added six new buttons by asking feedback as to why we are closing a photo. I do not want to see pictures of my boyfriend with his ex. It’s hurtful, and it’s not like I go sniffing for these pictures. They are shoved in my face, and it has to end.

  26. FACEBOOK naujienos ir patarimai #63 | Komunikacija FACEBOOK'e says:

    [...] Nuo šiol nebus rodomi „foto atsiminimų“ pasiūlymai su jūsų buvusiais. [...]

  27. eric says:

    But, to counter this, many of the pictures of my kid are tagged as my ex. So now these won’t show up? UNDO PLEASE!

  28. abused_by_FB says:

    FB is entirely too autocratic about its apps. Why can’t we control what we see on our pages? There is absolutely no argument to support disallowing such choices.

  29. Megan says:

    My current boyfriend keeps seeing photos of my ex and I popping up in his photo memories. This makes me feel terrible and has made him very sad! I have far too many pictures to go back and delete all of them, and I should really have the option to turn this off entirely, such that my old photos don’t pop up for ANYONE.

  30. Me says:

    So…Facebook keeps track of your former romantic partners, even after you delete them?!?!?

    Privacy fail. (Surprise, surprise!)

  31. concerned citizen says:

    “So…Facebook keeps track of your former romantic partners, even after you delete them?!?!?

    Privacy fail. (Surprise, surprise!)”

    Thank god someone else noticed that. What the !%#& Facebook. Please DO NOT remember who I was “in a relationship” with 5 %#^$*%& years ago.

  32. Kirsten says:

    It’s a useless, stupid idea.

    If I want memories I will go browse my own or my friends photos thanks very much. I’m not an idiot that needs reminding I’ve got great friends!

  33. Stef says:

    This is absolutely ridiculous. I cant BELIEVE IT….JUST LET US CHOOSE!!!

  34. GW says:

    Really insane/offensive. Give us a choice!

  35. LH says:

    Where is our “view photo comments?”

    Why can’t we organize our own photos anymore?!

    Stop changing the good stuff, already!!!!!

  36. Aleksandra says:

    I think it’s ridiculous that we have to look at pictures we do not want to look at. I don’t think it’s fair that people have to feel sad because facebook can’t fix this simple problem. Those photo memories were not there when fb started so they should just get rid of it.

  37. Sam says:

    It’s all very well that exs have been removed from the photo memories but my ex has untagged himself in all of the photos and so I still keep getting him popping up every time I go on. Considering I never want to see his face again, a constant reminder is the last thing I need. It took me a long time to get over it and to be reminded is not exactly advantageous to anyone. I thought facebook had options in place to keep their users happy – clearly not!

  38. Anonymous says:

    I have to agree on every point here around the necessity of users having control over what they are and are not exposed to. The psychological implications are devastating… I’ve had a terrible last few months and this hits home now more than ever. One of my best friends committed suicide, and am now going through a separation from my long-time partner. And every day, I’m forced to see images which are so incredibly sad for me. It’s just not right.

    Every morning, I come to Facebook to feel the support of my very loving family and friends around the world. Why? Because I need that. It has always been a place that used to make me happy. I thrive on the importance of people and friendships in life, and always loved that there was a platform to further nuture and connect this. Facebook has done some incredible things.

    But, as Facebook has evolved, it has forgotten the single most important value-add that made it such a success: Connecting people to those they care about, and nurturing that ‘feel good’ component of sharing information, experiences, and media. People come to Facebook because in some way or another, it makes them feel good.

    But, in growing an evolving, the main principles of these things have been lost, forgotten, and enabled for advertising or to further stimulate growth. People don’t feel comfortable posting and sharing as openly on their pages anymore. We’re all too worried about what will show up in someone’s feed even when we’ve filtered out appropriate security settings.

    We can’t control the experience to- as folks have been talking about-eliminate pictures or memories that hurt us. We have to constantly worry about people seeing things that are (or were) private to us, or security measures or filters changing on things we didn’t want openly shared. And that’s where we come back to the same problem that started this whole dialogue: Give us back control of our experience on Facebook. Let me own my life there again.

    Every few days, a photo of my best friend who passed away pops up on my screen. I have to be reminded of that pain constantly, and am continually put through the agony of her death. The same is true of my past relationship. I’m continually put into tears when coming to the page because I’m forced to see images of a person who I’m now separated from.

    I understand that the dynamics are complicated, and you have brilliant teams of engineers working on these and other, bigger things, but please, just stop and remember the simple things that matter in how humans live, breathe and relate to each other: Just let us grieve in peace.

  39. happy says:

    For those who dislike the way pictures are now displayed on Facebook-Just found this out by accident……open any picture(now the picture is smaller and in a black frame), go to the top of your page and click on the “refresh button” and the page refreshes but the picture is converted back to the former Facebook style

  40. How can we make it easier to rediscover great content from our past? says:

    [...] “peek at the past” feature, or Facebook’s Photo Memories feature (did you know it doesn’t show you photos of anyone you’ve ever been in a relationship with on Facebook?), but for everything, not just old photos of my friends. If Twitter is a discovery [...]

  41. Myshell Tabu says:

    [...] pictures of the two of you together, because that will only make it worse. Fortunately, the “Photo Memories” feature on Facebook won’t show pics of people you’ve listed as “in a [...]

  42. Facebook Stops Posting Photo Memories Of Your Ex - AllFacebook says:

    [...] Fortunately, Facebook has fixed the problem. According to an update posted to the group, which was first pointed out by Josh Constine, Facebook is no longer displaying ex-boyfriends and girlfriends. Sam Odio of Facebook posted a [...]

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