I’ve just discovered that leaving your account logged on Facebook allows CNN.com to somehow connect to it and see who of your friends have linked to CNN stories. To say the least, I was a little surprised to see a friend’s name with a link to a CNN.COM article, since I wasn’t logged into CNN and they didn’t ask for permission to connect to my Facebook account. My first instinct was to see behind my shoulder to see if the illuminati were behind me.
I did a little experimenting, logging out of Facebook and reloading the CNN page got me blank box with the caption that friends’ links would be shown there. Logging to Facebook again reintroduced the news about my friend’s link. Somehow they were getting access to my friend lists.
From the Product Management perspective, how do you decide on this type of features? I can think of several people who will love it, and a many more that will hate it. Obviously you want your product to remain competitive and offer features that go the extra mile for your customers. At the same time, if it takes a PhD to customize your preferences that would be a turn off.
To address this type of features, the steps I would follow would be:
• Prototype the hell out of it.
• Use customer’s panels and demo it in front of large groups
• Announce it and highlight it when it is shown for the first time.
• Build a “quick kill” or “shut down” button into the feature.
• Prepare for fallout in case it goes the wrong way.
Obviously I am simplifying the situation but the approach may help your company avoid Facebook-like privacy problems.