There’s one adjective Facebook uses over and over to describe the kind of content it hopes to show you. Whether it’s about the stories that come up in your Newsfeed, or ads, or apps, there it is, front-and-center in a press releaseor nestled in an interview quote or headlined on a blog post. The word? “Relevant.”
Remember the irony of that the next time you wake up in the morning, open Facebook, and look at the handful of notifications that have, oh, somewhere between zero and negative one thousand things to do with you.
You’ve probably noticed recently that Facebook seems to have a real problem adhering to an appropriate notification volume, or defaulting to an acceptable definition of what exactly is important enough to warrant you be notified about it. Here’s what happens lately: You see you’ve got a notification and you get excited! Like Pavlov’s dog, Facebook has trained you to expect something interesting, something relevant to you specifically, when you click that little icon. But lately? It’s not an alert that someone has commented on your (admittedly stunning) new profile photo. No, it’s an alert about a post from a literal stranger with whom you’ve shared nothing but the decision to click “Join Group” in 2011. Other times, it’s a reminder that a four-year acquaintance is interested in attending an event “near you” sometime this week. Your excitement quickly becomes disappointment. There is no treat for Pavlov’s dog anymore, only reminders of distant acquaintances birthdays.
Over the last year and a half, Facebook has paid increasing attention to the notifications feature of its platform. It started in 2015 with the (now abandoned) decision to turn the notifications tab into a sort of all-in-one information hub. Around the same time, Facebook released its short-lived Notify app, which was shut down in June of this year, just seven months after it launched. But while the app itself was dissolved, Facebook made a point to mention that it had “learned a lot about how to make notifications as timely and relevant as possible” with Notify, and that it would be incorporating the functionality into other Facebook products. (Facebook did not respond to a request for comment by publication time.)
The result of all this seems to be that instead of getting a few notifications about your friends and family, you are now by default opted in to receiving many notifications from random people who are, at best, tangentially related to you.
If you think this is starting to sound a lot like spam, well, you’re not wrong. The good news is, you can turn these notifications off. The annoying thing is that they aren’t off by default for things like Facebook Groups already. But if you have five or ten minutes, here’s how to fix your notifications in Facebook’s settings.
How To Change Notifications for Facebook Groups
Click on the little downward-facing arrow on the top toolbar of your Facebook page, where you’ll see settings. Click it, and then click notifications in the left column.
On this page, Facebook lets you change the notification settings by device. So choose accordingly, depending on whether you want your notifications changed on mobile, desktop, or both.
Under the “What You Get Notified About” section, you’ll see Group Activity. Click edit.
A pop-up dialogue will appear with all the groups you’re a part of. Change the notification settings to either All Posts, Friends’ Posts, Highlights, or Off.
While most of the options are self explanatory, Highlights is not, and that’s likely the source of your problems, since it is selected by default in many cases. According to Facebook, choosing Highlights will notify you for “suggested posts” and posts by your friends–“suggested” of course being the semantic word-ball that got us into this mess.
Once you’ve chosen your notification preferences, click the X to exit. Your changes should automatically be saved.
And that’s it! Hopefully this will have solved much of your notification woes. Of course, you saw that Groups notifications aren’t the only thing you can change. If you’re annoyed by things like birthday and event reminders, or live video notifications, you can change those there, too.