2016 Video Recaps From Facebook and YouTube

Facebook and YouTube have jointly inaugurated the round-up of nostalgia-fest 2016 with what are, quite fittingly, 'member berries of their own. Each platform has launched its own video feature taking a look back over the past twelve months. Facebook has given us each a personalised video entitled 'Your Year in Review', whilst YouTube has launched a centralised presentation called 'YouTube Rewind: The Ultimate 2016 Challenge.' Facebook also quietly sent out a bonus blog post recapping the year's 'most talked-about global topics' (the top being the US Presidential Election) and, for the first time, the biggest Facebook Live videos of the year (with Chewbacca Mom coming in first by a long way).

Personally, I don't usually like these things; and it's not just because my Facebook highlights have previously included, no kidding, a screenshot of an essay I posted to my History class. But crippling social awkwardness aside, let's keep an open mind.

Facebook's Year in Review welcome screen - img: Fox8
Facebook's offering will take us on a trip through a few of our most-liked photos and posts in a solar-system-themed sojourn around a circular white table top. We begin with our profile picture on the flat side of a hemispherical light, the reverse of which describes the year as 'another trip around the sun' (written in font which looks oddly matter-of-fact in its surroundings). As the camera, looking inwards, pans clockwise around the large (somewhat cold) space, we're accompanied by various emojis and an upbeat tune. It's like being in Little Big Planet all over again; except a strangely less welcoming version, despite the smiley faces (although again, that's probably because my profile's not all that fun).

As we progress, the colours will turn from a light morning blue to glowing pink-red, with arty-looking balls printed with a Facebook thumb rolling into a glass-fronted pit, representing the number of likes we've given out this year. My total is 337, apparently (almost one per day!). Finally, we pan upwards, over the large white platform and a couple of gurning yellow emojis to end with a shot of our profile picture, surrounded by images of our very best friends; which promptly fall over backwards to reveal themselves in a domino effect started, quite obviously, by our own magnificence, radiating outward like the heat from the prodigal suns that we are (yes, we've made it: centre of the social system at long last).

The feature's OK, but it could use a bit more heart. Let's move on to YouTube for a little more optimism. The seven-minute video begins with Dwayne Johnson bringing back the bright bum-bag and pulling out a big, red rewind button. 'Bring it,' he says.

OK, this one's quite funny.

YouTube Rewind has changed a lot since it started in 2010; from a relatively humble top-ten of the best videos of the year to a whole song-and-dance capable of gathering 50 million views in a day. Overlaid with a really catchy mash-up of the biggest pop songs of the year by The Hood Internet, to which Major Lazer added the remix treatment for a seamless meld of hips and hops, the soundtrack for this feature is way more uplifting than Facebook's offering.

As we progress though a world-spanning video, things are pretty hyperactive from the word go. A boatload of the biggest stars of the year, each paying homage to one another's videos, appear along the way. Riding on the back of a beguiling beat, we glide through the pastiche pastry of melodies and memes and, of course, appearances from over 200 of the most popular video stars of the YouTube year. It finally ends with Smithy-turned-Stewart James Corden guiding us along a cooled-down Carpool Karaoke compilation.

Oh, and did I mention? There's a bunch of Easter Eggs in the video, too: but you have to hover your mouse over the screen and catch the little annotation boxes once they pop up (hint: the first one's right at the beginning, over The Rock's risible red bag).

With tributes to everything from Bowie to the bottle-flip (which I had to watch again because it's just so funny), I think this one's actually pretty good. It's a little bit hollow, admittedly, but it's also quite fun; I defy anybody who's been visiting /r/youtubehaiku to keep a straight face during the video.

Overall, it's a mixed start to the recap season. YouTube's offering is very strong in comparison to Facebook's; but they are, after all, the video specialists. Facebook does its job of keeping the brand relevant during the festivities; but I still think it's a little too impersonal or me. Nevertheless, just as the site's friendship celebrations can often fall short in terms of quality content (algorythmically-generated as they are), they're still hugely popular features of our newsfeeds. There's little reason to think the same won't be the case this week as people discover their 2016 round-ups. Lord help us all...

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