Facebook wants to fix the ‘Happy Birthday’ spam problem by using Stories
Have you ever turned off Facebook’s notifications or even deleted the app entirely on your birthday, simply to avoid the non-stop barrage of alerts that someone had posted “Happy Birthday!” to your timeline? A fix may be in the works, as it turns out. An update to how Facebook will handle birthday notifications was given a brief mention during today’s keynote address at the company’s F8 developer conference, hinting at a new birthday feature yet to come.
The feature wasn’t one of Facebook’s demos, and the company is declining to share more details about its launch at this time.
However, the general idea is that Facebook could leverage the Stories format to create “birthday packages” that are sent once to users at the end of the day, instead of having users post messages to the friends’ timelines.
This was mentioned briefly alongside other ideas for how Stories will be expanded — like the upcoming launch of collaborative Stories, and a Stories option that allows video clipping, for example.
“And then birthdays,” added Facebook Chief Product Officer Chris Cox in his keynote address. “Instead of all of us writing on your wall to wish you a ‘happy birthday,’ how about we pull together, over the course of the day, a photo and video reel, which you then receive as a package at the end, saying, ‘happy birthday.’”
It’s unclear when this feature will actually arrive, but we understand Facebook isn’t commenting publicly because the product team is still working on what this new “happy birthday” feature will look like.
It’s not likely to prevent anyone from writing on a friend’s timeline, we’d imagine — but it could be a change to how Facebook prompts you to remember your friend’s or family member’s birthday. (Today, Facebook prompts you to post to their timeline, but that could be tweaked to encourage users to leave messages via Stories instead.)
This isn’t the first time Facebook has attempted to fix the age-old Happy Birthday spam problem. It has also done things like group birthday posts together, and it has consistently tried to get people to use video with things like Birthday Cam in 2016, and later personalized but automated video messages.
It has also attempted to bundle birthday greetings into recap videos, which is the experience that sounds most similar to what Facebook is now teasing with this Happy Birthday Stories feature. Perhaps the recap video will make a comeback, but be presented not within your News Feed or Timeline, but as a personalized Story built for you.
Of course, if you really don’t like the birthday spam, you could just remove your birthday information from your Facebook profile ahead of the actual day.