Product No. 3: Facebook Peek

Facebook Peek is the third product I’ve ideated and designed as part of my 100 Products, 100 User Journeys series. It provides an interesting way to consume new content on Facebook’s platform and grow empathy across social, cultural, and political lines. Each time someone “peeks” into your newsfeed, they get a sense for your world, and the chance to bring a few learnings into their own.


It’s official: election season is in full swing.

As a Wellesley College graduate, I’ve seen a preponderance of #ImWithHer political support emerge on Facebook over the last couple of days. If I had to put numbers to it, I would say that at least 90% of my Facebook friends identify as “liberal” with a high % in support of Hillary Clinton. In the rare instances where I see #MakeAmericaGreatAgain support, I’m always struck with both curiosity and surprise.

Given my left-leaning online community, the conversations I see on Facebook are often predictable. It generally looks like some combination of shock, disdain, and SMH (“Shaking My Head”) whenever Donald Trump makes the news and a mixture of celebration and respect when Hillary Clinton is covered.

No matter what one thinks of either candidate this season, it’s true that we often end up in echo chambers where our thoughts and opinions are reflected by our peers. We choose to hang out with people whom we feel socially connected to, but the end result is that we end up in political silos that are self-affirming rather than truth-seeking. I’m left wondering:

  • What if I could see through the eyes of someone living in another country?
  • Someone different from me politically?
  • Someone different from me racially or culturally?
  • What if I could do this all on Facebook?

Introducing Facebook Peek

Facebook Peek is a feature that enables users to “peek” at a timed snapshot of another user’s Newsfeed, or their “PeekFeed.” The main purpose is to provide users access to how someone else sees Facebook.

Peeks come in two flavors:

  1. Profile Peeks
  2. Event Peeks

For example, Peeking might look like:

  • A curious user has heard of the Black Lives Matter movement but is only friends with a couple people on Facebook who seem to post a lot about it. He can view his friend’s PeekFeed to gain access to his friend’s community and learn more about the articles, content, and conversations being shared on the topic. (Profile Peek)
  • An ardent Hillary supporter wants to view the Newsfeed of a Trump supporter during the Democratic National Convention. This supporter typically does not see pro-Trump posts on her own Newsfeed since she is mostly friends with similarly minded people. (Event Peek)
  • After a terrible event, such as the terrorist attacks in France, an American user peeks into the newsfeed of an old French friend he met while abroad. He discovers content that is being shared among his friend’s France-based network to better understand the situation from the eyes of those on the ground. (Event Peek)

While Peeks provide a lot of opportunity to expand engagement on the Facebook platform, there are numerous privacy considerations, which will be further explained below, under “Considerations.”

Profile Peeks

Profile Peeking involves going directly to a user’s profile and selecting the “Peek” feature, represented as an eye icon in the below user story.


After selecting the Peek feature, a user is directed to a PeekFeed of curated content that represents the Newsfeed of the selected profile. A timer in the corner counts down, providing the user one minute per day to scan the content. The timer serves as a security control that discourages stalking. The ephemeral nature of the timer is further discussed under “Considerations” in this blog post.


Event Peeks

Event Peeks show up on a user’s Newsfeed and help users who don’t know about Facebook Peek discover Peeking. Events could be sourced from news items on Trending Topics.

An Event Peek works by presenting interesting events and giving a user the option to view them from a different or opposing point of view. For example, if our user is a Republican and the Democratic National Convention was happening, he could view my PeekFeed to determine how Democrats were responding.


An example of how an Event Peek will show up on a user’s personal Newsfeed.


A view of how Event Peeking leads to event-specific content on PeekFeed sourced from the target user’s online community.



Below I will break down a few key considerations on how this feature works, how we source content for it, and what makes it interesting.

  1. The Core Benefit of Facebook Peek: Facebook Peek’s main benefit is to provide users a lens into social, cultural, and political groups they may not necessarily have access to in their own networks. It can delight, anger, educate, or sadden but most importantly, it can expand users’ experiences on the Facebook platform and enable them to see through someone else’s eyes.
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  2. Tradeoffs Between Granularity and Privacy: Because the purpose of Facebook Peek is to provide content that a user would not otherwise see on their own Newsfeed, a balance needs to be struck between content granularity and user privacy.Two types of content exist on PeekFeed: 1) Content from mutual friends 2) Content from non-mutual friends. How we deal with each type of content is driven by the desire to maximize the “Peeker” experience while minimizing privacy violations of people whose content is being peeked at.

    This is especially important since the content that is most interesting (i.e. content a Peeker is least likely to see on their own Newsfeed) is most likely from people outside their social network.

    • Content Between Friends: This content is already shared between mutual friends and therefore does not need additional security controls outside of what the original poster selects when making a post.
      • PeekFeed content will obey the original security options selected by a poster including whether to share content to the Public, Friends, Only Me, or a Customized Audience.
      • If a user has a Restricted or Blocked List, no content would show up on the PeekFeed of someone on these lists.
      • Personal statements, comments, news articles, tweets, memes, images, etc… are OK
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    • Content From Non-Mutual Friends: This includes content from friends of friends (i.e. a friend’s Trump-supporting friends that I am not connected with.) We want to access SOME of this content without endangering user privacy. In order to do this we need to decide what content makes sense.
      • What Content Makes Sense:
        • Posts from publicly searchable Groups the targeted user follows, regardless of whether or not the Peeker is in these Groups.
        • Content should be limited to news articles, tweets, memes, and images*. Comments from individual users should be stripped.
        • Posts that are deemed highly valuable as defined by high share rates among friends but low public share rates.ContentValue
          *Images that are tagged to other users through Facebook’s facial recognition software should not be included since they are likely private images.
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  3. Security: The remaining question is how to orient security controls to ensure that content which has high shares among friends but low public shares does not result in de-anonymization of a non-mutual friend through PeekFeed.This would require further analysis of appropriate security measures, but one measure would be to strip any PII from shared posts and only include the actual links and content.The highest value content (Low Public Shares, High Shares Among Friends) for PeekFeed carries moderate risk for de-anonymizing users. Luckily, the highest risk content (Low Public Shares, Low Shares Among Friends) provides the lowest value from a PeekFeed standpoint as indicated in Quadrant 1 of the Content Value and Content Sensitivity tables.


  4. The Addition of Ephemerality into Facebook’s UX: Social networking companies are rethinking ephemerality because of Snapchat’s success. Instagram’s Bolt and Facebook’s Poke App were examples of how ephemerality had been integrated into the messaging aspects of both platforms. Instagram Stories, which just recently launched, is the most recent Facebook take on ephemerality.Why is ephemerality attractive? The existence of briefness—a view, a glance, a peek— increases the perceived value of an experience. Ephemerality captures feelings, experiences, and events in the moment with the underlying agreement that they will be gone with the passage of time.Gah wordpress spaces gah
    How does Facebook Peek make a play on ephemerality? 
    Facebook Peek’s timer serves as more than a security control—it adds a sense of urgency and uniqueness around viewing  someone’s PeekFeed. The experience of being able to see the world through a different lens for a limited time adds transience to the Facebook experience, an experience not available on any social networking platform.



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