How to: Block event and game requests on Facebook

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Are you tired of constant game requests to play Candy Crush Saga? Maybe you’ve got an overeager promoter as a Facebook friend and you’re besieged by event invitations five states away.

Here’s how to silence these notifications and live a cleaner Facebook life.

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Facebook: 95 percent of notification emails are strictly secured

Whenever you get a notification email from Facebook, such as for a tagged photo, those emails can be encrypted with plain text communication protocol STARTTLS, creating a more secure connection.

In May, Facebook said that just 28.6 percent of such emails sent out were protected with STARTTLS, but now that number is up to 95 percent.

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Facebook’s notification icon spins to global location

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Facebook’s notification icon is one of the most clicked-on parts of the screen — and now it has a new little aesthetic twist.

As first pointed out to Inside Facebook by Matteo Gamba and Ugur Samut, CMO of Medigo, the location of the globe logo is now localized to the user’s location. U.S. users see North and South Americas in the logo, while users in other parts of the world will see their area.

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Facebook tests notifications prompting fans of celebrities to join chats

BX1VzbtCQAEDMh_Facebook occasionally tests different types of notifications. According to BuzzFeed, the site is prompting users to check out the Facebook Live sessions through the notification system. A reader noticed that she had a notification on Facebook, suggesting that she go check out a live question-and-answer session by soccer star David Beckham, whose page she likes.

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Facebook tests more detailed notifications

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Facebook appears to be testing a new way to alert users that they have a notification, giving them more information. Some users are seeing a box right below the notification alert, showing who performed the action.

Facebook still has the more detailed notification in the bottom left portion of the screen, telling users exactly what happened, such as a response to a comment or a timeline post.

With this notification box, users can see which friends have engaged with their posts or timeline. This pops up if the user does not immediately check their notifications, prompting them to click on the icon.

Readers: Have you seen this?

Facebook turns off notifications users haven’t clicked in a while

Facebook has begun automatically turning off notifications for groups and close friends that users were not interacting with, a company spokesperson tells us.

When this happens, users will see a notice in their notifications window with the option to turn the notifications back on.

“This is part of our efforts to make sure that users are receiving the most meaningful notifications,” the spokesperson said.

Third-party apps using the notifications channel are not affected by this change, which began last month, but there are a number of other quality controls for app notifications. For example, developers cannot send notifications to users who have not visited an app in the last 28 days. Developers also need to maintain a minimum 17 percent click-to-impression ratio, otherwise their access to notifications may be temporarily blocked.

By being stricter about when users receive notifications, Facebook can help keep the channel effective. If users regularly receive notifications they aren’t interested in, they may become less likely to check their notifications in the future, which could hurt developers that use the channel to promote re-engagement with their apps.

Users can edit their notification settings, including the type of notifications they receive and how the notifications are delivered, here.

Thanks to Matt Navarra and Tyler Willis for the tip.

Facebook to give developers alerts about changes to platform and app status

Facebook today announced Developer Alerts, a way to notify developers about important changes to the platform and the status of their apps.

For example, Facebook will communicate breaking changes to developers through these alerts, which are delivered via email and Facebook notifications. Developers will get an alert 90 days before a change goes into effect and see reminders at 60 days, 30 days and the day of. If developers complete the necessary migration before the deadline, they will no longer receive alerts about it.

The change is part of Operation Developer Love, an ongoing effort to improve relations with developers through better communications, documentation and new features. Developers have been able to get weekly updates and view resources on the the developer blog. There have also been improvements to the app dashboard. With the new alerts, though, developers are more likely to see the information they need in a more timely manner without having to seek it out themselves.

It also seems Facebook is making an effort to give developers more warning when their apps are not compliant with platform policies, giving them time to respond before enforcement action is taken. For example, if an app does not include a privacy policy, the developer will see an alert reminding them to add one before the app is forced into sandbox mode. This could reduce the chances that developers will be caught off guard by Facebook’s actions and ensure better user experience by having compliant apps. When an issue is resolved, developers will receive a confirmation alert, which should be useful for apps that have more than one developer.

Facebook says it will also send alerts to notify developers when their Open Graph actions are approved, when the status of their App Center detail pages changes or other similar things occur. However, the company notes that most developers won’t receive alerts very often.

Developer Alerts will begin rolling out today and will be available for all apps over the next few weeks.

Facebook rolling out option for fans to receive notifications about page posts

Facebook is rolling out a new feature for users to opt in to receive notifications every time a page makes a post.

This seems to be a solution for fans who don’t want to miss any page posts that might not make it into their News Feed because of Facebook’s algorithms. For example, some users might want to be aware of all posts from a news publication, an artist they really like or a small business that doesn’t post very often. The feature is similar to the “close friends” option, which alerts users each time a new update or photo is shared by someone on the list.

Facebook confirmed to us in a statement, “We are currently rolling out the ability for people to receive notifications from specific pages, friends or public figures that they are connected to. This feature will help people keep up with the people and things that they care about most.”

With users and pages making so many posts and taking so many actions, Facebook uses an algorithm to sort News Feed rather than being a full stream like Twitter. Although the goal is to make the feed more relevant and engaging, this sometimes leads users to miss posts that they might have wanted to see. Some users have tried using Interest Lists to get a more complete feed from pages they care about. With notifications, however, users will be even more likely to see all the content from a page or person. Notifications are off by default and settings can be changed at any time.

The social network has also recently tested a “subscribe” button on pages. This allows users to receive News Feed updates from a page without indicating that they “Like” it, but as far as we know does not generate notifications when the page makes a post.

Thanks to Moayed Mohammed for the tip and screenshot below. Notification image from AllFacebook.com.

Facebook adds more quality controls for app notifications, gives developers better tracking tools

Facebook today announced new quality control measures for canvas app notifications, seeking to maintain the effectiveness of the channel for developers without upsetting users.

Starting Nov. 9, developers will no longer be able to send notifications to users who have not visited an app in the last 28 days. Facebook says engagement drops sharply after this period and increases the risk of an app being flagged as spam. Developers will have to use notifications to promote re-engagement sooner after users access the app rather than relying on it as a way to bring back inactive users.

Also beginning on Nov. 9, developers who send a high volume of notifications will need to maintain a minimum 17 percent click-to-impression ratio. Apps that fall below this ratio may have access to notifications blocked temporarily. As we wrote about Thursday, Facebook says high quality developers are seeing notification clickthrough rates between 25 and 40 percent. Kixeye, for example, has seen 30 percent CTR on notifications it sends War Commander users when their base is attacked. The social network recommends testing new notifications with a small set of an app’s user base to remain below 50,000 sends per week and avoid the additional quality requirements.

Along with the restrictions announced today, Facebook is introducing a new feature to help developers track the performance of notifications. Developers can divide their notifications into groups and measure results separately.

Notifications are one of the channels that Facebook had restricted for social game developers in early 2010 because it generated too much spam. The company relaunched the notifications API in beta for canvas apps in August, this time with more safeguards to prevent developers from abusing the channel. Today’s changes are a continuation of that.

Facebook re-opens notifications channel for developers to send users custom messages

Facebook has launched the new Notifications API beta giving developers a way to reengage users with custom messages through the native notifications channel. These notifications are different from app requests in that users do not need to allow further permissions to receive them.

Developers will find many positives to this feature as it makes it easier to reach their users. However, they must beware of the possibility of overflowing users’ notifications channel. Facebook previously allowed developers to send notifications to users, but it removed the feature in early 2010 as a way to reign in spammy apps. This time around, the social network has put in more safeguards to prevent developers from abusing the channel.

Users can accept or decline these notifications and are given the option to opt-out at any time. Facebook encourages developers to test and monitor how notifications are performing through the notifications dashboard in Insights. Developers will get information on how notifications are being received as well as turn-off rates. Exceedingly high turn-off rates may be classified as spam and will be disabled.

The company encourages developers to be mindful of the language in their notifications, suggesting that high-quality notifications receive higher click through rates than app requests. Low-quality app notifications are more likely to cause people to turn off notifications for that app all together.

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