Startups

Twitter’s new random notifications are awful and I hate them

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About a month ago, Twitter rolled out a new feature that would show you a bunch of random shit in your notifications tab.

For example, if a couple of people that you follow liked a tweet, it’d show up in your notifications tab. If someone followed someone else, boom! There it was in your notifications tab. If people you follow start tweeting about the same topic or article… well, you get the gist.

I get it. Twitter is desperate for engagement. The company posted 328 million total users for Q2 2017, which happens to be the same amount of users the company reported in Q1. Stocks fell 12 percent. It was a very bad day.

So it’s not surprising that Twitter would look to Facebook, which does the same thing and only continues to growh, and wonder “What if?”

I’m positive that Twitter’s engagement is up because of the switch, which translates to them as: random-ass notifications = good thing.

If people are engaging, they must love the new notifications, right?

No.

Most social media use is narcissistic. You post content, like other people’s content, and they like yours, and so the cycle continues.

There are unselfish reasons to get on Twitter. Boredom is a big one. I’m also instantly drawn to Twitter during real-time crises or events. But the most powerful reason to open up Twitter, at least for me, is a push notification about someone interacting with my tweets.

From what I’ve seen since the roll-out, Twitter’s ‘random’ notifications feel a bit more cautious than Facebook’s, which seemingly include all the activity of one’s Facebook friends, from posted a picture, to made a comment, to changed a profile picture, etc.

Still, there is an easy alternative to clogging up Twitter notifications with stuff about other people: the Instagram way.

Instagram is not without its own engagement-seeking flaws — I still loathe the algorithmic feed — but the notifications tab on Instagram is separated into two tabs: me and following. Following shows the activity of folks that you follow, such as their likes, their new follows, and comments. The “me” tab shows stuff that has to do with you and your posts.

Another gripe: it’s one thing to put notifications about other people in the notifications feed, and it’s a totally different (and outrageous) thing to put in a push notification.

That said, Twitter has at least implemented a way to “See less” of these types of notifications, which you can access by clicking the down arrow in the top right corner of the notification.

Knowing full-well that this plea will fall on deaf ears, I march onward:

Twitter, I beseech you. Don’t dilute the notifications tab of your platform. You refuse suspend or expel 45 (whether for the right or the wrong reasons), and he must be helping your engagement. Don’t use something as sacred as the notifications tab to get better engagement. Don’t punish those of us who regularly use your service. Use him, instead.

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