Facebook Widens Test of App Request Notifications, Some Users Complain

Facebook appears to have rolled out its short-term test of app requests in the notifications channel to many or possibly all users. The change was designed to help developers by improving app discovery and user retention. After reviewing early feedback from gamers and testing the system ourselves, we believe many users will think the requests are redundant since they already appear elsewhere, and overrun their notifications channel, obscuring social notifications about Likes, wall posts, and photo tags.

The test was initiated on Thursday as a way to “drive discovery and engagement to applications”, according to Facebook. Notifications channel access was revoked from developers in February, and app requests began appearing in both Requests and the navigation bookmarks in November. Users had acclimated to looking for their requests in these channels, but developers wanted a more prominent way to lead users to their apps.

Early feedback on the test from a small but vocal minority of the user base has criticized the mismatch in volume of different types of requests in the same channel. Notifications were previously a quieter channel for users to learn when friends publicly interacted with their content, but some users with many friends who play games receive dozens of app requests a day. These quickly push the traditional social notifications out of the five slots in the notifications drop-down, forcing users to click through to their full page notifications screen. Low-urgency app request notifications may be viewed as spam when mixed with high-relevance social notifications.

Other users cite how receiving a notification used to be exciting because it meant someone Liked their photo, commented on their post, tagged them in a status update, or engaged with them in some other meaningful way. Being distracted only to find someone selfishly wanted their help in a game dilutes this joy and can make checking notifications a chore. A separate app notification icon in the top navigation bar could be a better solution.

While its common for Facebook users to react to any interface change, and few who prefer changes are moved enough to comment, the complaints seem unanimously negative and somewhat logical. Facebook’s internal tests of interface changes aren’t always a good measure, as employees or designated testers may subscribe to different etiquette norms and be less likely to abuse features than the average user.

For instance, some users might see the change as an opportunity to bombard friends with high visibility requests for their own gain. Facebook’s testers may have been more cautious about sending requests, leading the company to think app request notifications would be helpful, not spammy.

Facebook says its seeking to “capture the network effects of the update”. Despite the early backlash from a few users, the test may be successfully improving app discovery and engagement to the benefit of developers. However, if app request notifications realign the Facebook experience too squarely around games, users may find it more difficult to stay touch with the most sustainable driver of engagement — their friends.

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6 Responses to “Facebook Widens Test of App Request Notifications, Some Users Complain”

  1. Andreas says:

    They need to stop it.
    I don’t know a single person who likes that Notification about app request stuff.

    It overflooeds my Notifications with stuff thats way less then unimportant.
    I miss Comments, Tags and other important stuff.
    There is already the App Request page. Wich is totally perfect.

    If Facebook doesn’t change that stuff this week, i see myself forced to block ALL Applications and stop using them.
    Facebook never seems to learn that spamming users is the wrong way.
    They just proof that they don’t care about theyr users. And its also hard to tell facebook what you think about that shit.
    Would it be so hard to make it possible to vote on stuff like that? Or actually read the Forums and answer people there?

  2. Andreas says:

    Also Facebook doesn’t recognize how much requests some people get.
    I get aprox 100-150 a day.
    Sometimes i get multiple ones just a few minutes, especially after sending ingame gifts.

    Its annoying the hell out of me, i check requests when i start a gaming session, and while gaming i don’t want to get disturbed by the Notifications.

    Like i said, i WILL Block every Application, and set adblock to block the notification symbol.

  3. Crissy Taylor says:

    The entire reason the notification complaints are limited, is there is no single place to complain ..

    I bet if FACEBOOK really did a survey – they would find out NO ONE likes this new notification schema. .. at least separate the game notifications from the rest …. if the dev’s need it put it somewhere else. After all, this is a social site and i am missing the social comments, posts etc trying to wade through the darn gaming stuff … And yes, i do both – but then, most do.

  4. Yousaan Allcrazy says:

    It’s damned annoying!! Especially when I am getting requests for games I DON’T play, such as CityVille, Zoo World, PetVille, etc.

    I play several (Zynga) games based out of Facebook. I have to say, I am honestly thinking of stopping for the holidays and blocking all of them for at least a few weeks until FB gets rid of this nonsense. Sure, it’ll mean my Mafia goes without help, my FrontierVille will be covered with trees and thorns, my FarmVille crops will wither and my CafeWorld patrons will starve, but I DON’T CARE if it means I don’t have to see all these STUPID notifications on my notifications tab list!! I play four games average at the moment, even grouped do you realize how much crap that is on my notifications list right now? You don’t want to see what it looks like ,trust me!

  5. Andreas says:

    @Crissy Taylor
    You are SO RIGHT.
    There is no place to complain.
    Facebook doesn’t have anything like a forum where we can make suggestions, complain or even put a survey up.

    And by my 16 Years of Internet. Its intendet to be that way.
    They don’t want it so be easy for people to compain.
    But you know what? I might start a group or something !

  6. Andreas says:


    Group against those notifications

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