Twitter tested out some breaking news alerts this week on users who never actually signed up for them. Moments after confirmed reports of a shooting near a Pittsburgh high school, some Twitter users received a breaking push notification tweet from the Associated Press.
Unlike the 35,000 users who subscribe to Twitter’s breaking news alerts, these users weren’t expecting to be notified. Several of them responded back to the Associated Press, saying:
@AP why did I get a notification for this?
— JAI BE MY 2/5 (@brianraypreston) November 13, 2013
@brianraypreston @AP I have the same question. Is it Twitter’s new business model to raise revenue?
— Parthsarathi Jha (@parthsarathijha) November 13, 2013
@AP I don’t follow you so don’t send me your commie notifications
— Joseph Burgan (@bambamjb) November 13, 2013
It’s not the first time Twitter experimented with breaking news push notifications, considering it already has Event Parrot (direct message news alert service) and MagicRecs (experimental follow and tweet recommendation service). However, users who received the AP tweet weren’t signed up for either, and didn’t appear to follow the news source either.
Buzzfeed suggested Twitter may be testing and refining a breaking news system, possibly for a future broad rollout. Given who received the tweets, it’s likely the test pool is random.