Facebook gives apps the freedom to notify you directly

App developers can now contact users through their notifications feed.

Donna Tam Staff Writer / News
Donna Tam covers Amazon and other fun stuff for CNET News. She is a San Francisco native who enjoys feasting, merrymaking, checking her Gmail and reading her Kindle.
Donna Tam
2 min read

If you feel like you've been getting more Facebook notifications than usual, it's because app developers can now contact you directly via the notifications channel, Facebook officially announced to developers today.

The social network has allowed developers to directly contact app users through notifications, which are easily accessible through the little globe icon at the top of the page and the main way most users get updates on their profile activity.

So if your friend has just passed your high score on a game, you could get a notification from a game egging you on to win back your former glory. In the past, your friend could send the notification, but not the game itself, according to Facebook.

Developers won't need permission from users to start these notifications, but Facebook Software Engineer Bo Zhang wrote in his blog post that users are in full control after they get the initial messages, and can opt out at any time.


While the tool lets developers engage with users more directly -- no doubt a valuable marketing tool for apps -- Facebook is trying to keep a grip on a good user experience. It's a fine line.

Zhang emphasized that developers should be careful how often they send these updates and what content is delivered. Facebook doesn't want notification abuse, which could lead to disgruntled users. The network has given developers an insights tool to gauge how effective their messaging is in hopes of stopping any unnecessary messaging.

Zhang said Facebook will change this feature if users don't like it.

"Notifications work well when they deliver relevant, useful information to people using your app," Zhang wrote. "Over time, we will continue to adjust how these notifications appear to ensure users see relevant notifications and developers have an optimized experience."