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Looks like Facebook is yet again taking another page out of the Twitter handbook. After launching their live-streaming service “Live” this past summer to little fanfare after the moderate success of Twitter’s similar Periscope platform, Facebook is once again mining Twitter’s features to develop a standalone app built around delivering users up to the minute news as quickly and seamlessly as possible.

Notify is Facebook’s brand new and shiny toy, an app that delivers speedy news and content notifications directly to a person’s iPhone, which thus far is the only device and platform the app is available on. The app enables users to choose topics they’re interested in, such as politics, sports or entertainment, and sign up for breaking news alerts around them. Notify sends these alerts as a typical notification that appear on the lock screen of your iPhone. Swiping or tapping on the notification will send you directly to the site, article or video in question that Notify so dutifully clued you in on.

Call me crazy, but this sounds an awful lot like the feature in Twitter that allows users to sign up for alerts on any Twitter account they follow to have their tweets sent directly to them as notifications on their home screens so they can always remain up to date on their favorite tweeters or any breaking news. But alas, I’m sure is merely coincidental. After all, Notify does offer a bit more than just a wildly similar strategy of sending alert notifications to people based on people, places and things they subscribe to.

In all fairness to Notify, here’s a cool feature that gives it a bit of a leg-up: from a locked screen, users can share the alerts Notify sends them to friends via email, text and other social media platforms. The app also incorporates an archival like feature allowing alerts and notifications to be saved for viewing at a more convenient time. “Notifications are becoming one of the primary ways people first learn about things wherever they are,” Facebook Product Manager Julian Gutman explained in a post announcing the arrival of Notify.

Naturally, because Notify comes from Facebook, you’ll need a Facebook login to access the app. This is no doubt to further attempts of the social media giant to gather data and information on user interests so that they can shamelessly cater to those things with advertisements and cookies galore the next time you log in to stalk your friends who live 3,000 miles away.

For Facebook’s partners, however, Notify is quite a boon to their ability to share and disseminate content to a large potential pool of users. The New York Times, CNN and Vogue are some of Facebook’s 70 partners that have been granted full control over the text and links that appear in their alerts through Notify. More sources and producers are in the pipeline for Notify in the coming weeks. In the meantime, if you can’t find that direct link to your favorite publication or topic through Notify, there’s always that other social media platform. You know, the one with the blue bird mascot.


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