A friend of mine noticed something you probably have too: Facebook is now putting up notifications when your friends update their status. Not just statuses you’ve Liked or people you’ve added to your super stalking list, but straight up ‘Joe Schmoe has updated their status’ is showing up as a red badge notification. “Why is this happening?” he asks. I offer the following theory out of a misplaced sense of obligation and competency:
Facebook knows that there’s an endorphin release for many people when they see the red notification in their Facebook toolbar. By adding more events to cause those notifications (and subsequent chemical releases), Facebook is conspiring to addict you to those internally produced drugs and in doing so to cause you to seek them over and over by increasing your Facebook visits.
Ideally, each consumer would measure the interval between refreshes (and consequently ad views) in seconds. Think of the twitching, shaky fingers of a cigarette chain smoker as they prop that Marlboro up and stare sightlessly off into the distance, smoke curling around them like a visible wall. Now, as an ex-smoker, imagine harnessing that single-minded addiction to making a company money.
Yeah, they’re smart.