September 10, 2006

Facebook: Publicity to Die Invade Privacy For

Posted in Business, Community, Fun at 8:09 pm by mj

(Full disclosure: I work for Webshots, which is a sort of competitor to Facebook.)

When the “Facebook Fiasco” started, I felt a little uneasy. Everybody I knew, and most in the blogosphere, were saying what an embarrassment this was for Facebook.

Hot on the heels of the AOL stir-up, I could feel management at every community and social networking site gritting its collective teeth, preparing morning memos decreeing that all new features have to be vetted through legal.

My thought? No publicity is bad publicity.

As if a company who gets 100K+ of its members to protest a new change by using its own services is really going to experience any lasting repercussions.

It now appears that I was right:

This is an excellent example of a company listening to its users and quickly pushing intelligent changes, in a transparent manner, to deal with a problem. Facebook is growing up, in a good way.

Also see their Alexa traffic spike.

Now that’s how to launch a new feature.

Now, Facebook didn’t do this intentionally. And many of these users certainly would have fled–eventually. There are some serious points in here, but it’s all quite funny, too.

Just consider their pitch to their advertisers: Last month, we committed a bit of a faux pas with a small little feature, and over one hundred and fifty thousand people came together on our site in a single day! Thousands of newspapers and blogs linked to us. Imagine if your campaign were running that day…

Backlashes–especially when “unprecedented”–are a better proof of your reach and the vitality of your business than anything else. For better or worse.

Interestingly, Sam Ruby has a different take on what was most disconcerting about Facebook’s feature: information overload.

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