Facebook has been in some hot water this week after a user claimed that the company was spamming him with unwanted notifications over SMS. “So I signed up for 2 factor auth on Facebook and they used it as an opportunity to spam me notifications,” said Gabriel Lewis in a tweet. “Then they posted my replies on my wall.”
So I signed up for 2 factor auth on Facebook and they used it as an opportunity to spam me notifications. Then they posted my replies on my wall. 🤦♂️ pic.twitter.com/Fy44b07wNg— Gabriel Lewis 🦆 (@Gabriel__Lewis) February 12, 2018
This sort of activity is clearly an abuse of power, especially given that Lewis gave the company his number in order to participate in a security service. (Facebook said it wasn't sure how Lewis was receiving messages through his phone number, but the company is looking into the matter.) But for Facebook, it’s nothing new. The company has been acting thirsty as all hell for years now, every so slowly dialing down the threshold for the information it sees fit to bother you with.
We didn’t used to get notifications for people we don't know posting in groups we forgot we joined, or the annoying automated “You are now connected with...” message each and every time you add a new friend designed to pull you into the Messenger app. There are also those super-desperate emails it sends if you delete the app.
Obviously, getting eyeballs on pages has been the company’s primary purpose for most of its existence. What if that little red Messenger notification is a long-lost lover, or your third-cousin-twice-removed reaching out to you through the depths of cyberspace?
Facebook has ratcheted up the activity bit by bit to trick us into believing that we — and thus, by the transitive property, our Facebook profiles — are more important than you actually are, while also putting the fact that you don’t actually have any quality notifications on full display. Facebook fails only when it steps too far too fast, by, for instance, texting your two-factor-authentication number with an invitation. But the thirst will never end, as long as Facebook never turns the dial too fast.