Twitter for Android: how to stop unwanted alerts


Twitter for Android: how to stop unwanted alerts

The official Twitter app on my Android phone has started popping up a new sort of notification. Every so often, it’s taken to buzzing and vibrating to advise me that some people I know have started to follow someone I don’t know.

Clearly, it’s an attempt to get me to “engage” more with Twitter – as if I don’t enough already – and it’s not a wholly brainless approach. It stands to reason that if my friends like a certain Twitter feed then there’s a fair chance I might like it too.

I really don’t appreciate the intrusion, however. And based on the comments I’ve seen popping up on my own feed it looks like I’m not alone. I won’t be surprised if Twitter ends up backtracking in short order – but in the meantime, it looks like we’ll just have to live with the unwanted interruptions, or uninstall the Twitter app entirely.

That’s what it looks like; but in fact it is possible to disable these unwanted notifications. Here’s how.

Secret settings

Shrunk1The secret is that Twitter’s settings interface actually offers many more configuration options than are obvious at first glance.

To see this for yourself, first open up the Twitter app, then hit the Menu button and select Settings (you can also get here by tapping on your own profile, tapping the cogwheel button and selecting Settings).

The menu that opens offers only a perfunctory selection of Settings. There’s certainly nothing here about notifications. If you were looking for a way to turn off intrusive alerts, I wouldn’t blame you for giving up at this point.

At the top, however, there’s a section headed Accounts, the first entry under which should be your account name. Though there’s nothing to indicate it, clicking on this takes you to another menu offering many more settings – including a whole section headed NOTIFICATION SETTINGS.

Shrunk2The options on offer still don’t actually look very promising. You can turn vibrations and audio alerts on and off, but there’s only a single tick-box for “Notifications”. If you’re anything like me, you still want to receive alerts when someone mentions you in a tweet, or sends you a direct message. It looks very much as if your only options are to receive all alerts, including the unwanted ones – or none.

Tap the tick-box, however, and you’re in for a surprise. Another submenu opens. And from here – praise be – you can specify precisely which types of alert you want to pop up on your phone or tablet. Scroll down and untick Recommendations and Other (this time the tick-boxes are for real) and the job is done. You should no longer be bothered by notifications about things that don’t involve you.

It’s a relief to find this is possible, but the requisite tick-boxes are so well tucked away – hidden, indeed, behind an overtly misleading interface design – that I can’t help but wonder whether someone is deliberately trying to prevent people from finding them.

If so, it’s a real disappointment. I never imagined the service was a philanthropic venture, but so far I thought it had steered clear of the worst Facebook-style excesses of user manipulation. If this sort of thing is now on the table, it’s not an encouraging augur of what things will be like after the IPO.

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