Have you ever been logged into Facebook and gotten an instant notification “hey, someone commented on your post” and waited an hour later to get the email version of that notification? Did you ever wonder why Facebook’s system seem out of sync with email? I’ve experienced this on occasion, and recently it got me thinking.
If you were Facebook, and trying to drive eyeballs to your site, why would you even do email notifications at all? If people realized that Facebook itself was a better source of data for realtime Facebook updates than the email notifications, it would be more likely that people would visit the site to keep up to date. And visitors to the site would most likely drive other activity and engagement. So, by degrading email notifications functionality, Facebook could transition people into higher engagement of the website.
A clever way to do it undetectably (except by, say, Google) would be to periodically degrade email notifications randomly. It’s easy to blame it on “system failures.” Since users are not all affected at the same time, but only a portion of users experience a portion of delayed email, gradually the userbase would be conditioned to mistrust Facebook’s email notifications, and trust the website more.
However, their email notifications are pretty good. Here’s the last five of mine, they line up perfectly:
I don’t have the data right now to demonstrate anything sinister. and Facebook’s email notifications do appear to generally arrive in a timely fashion. But if your experience has been otherwise, leave a comment and kick off this conspiracy theory.
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