Urban Airship Guide Highlights Bad Push Messaging

Urban Airship has released details of some of the worst abuses of push messaging in apps in its newly-released guide, #BADPUSH, for mobile app developers.

In one case, a parent took to Twitter to complain about a virtual pet app called My Pet. She told UrbanAirship she had been horrified to discover that the app had sent a stream of push notifications that used a combination of abuse, emotional blackmail and threats, to encourage her nine year old daughter to ‘feed’ her virtual pet.

The parent, a support teacher at a school, told Urban Airship:”I was horrified to see an app targeted at children using techniques that more resembled cyber bullying. We have assemblies, at my school warning the kids about what they say online and the consequences and this is a company doing what we warn them against! I am just glad my daughter didnt see it.” 

The parent was able to delete the app before her nine-year-old daughter saw the messages. 

Other apps called out by people’s tweets as #BADPUSH include Facebook, Draw Something, The New York Times and GEICO. All are named and shamed for sending push notifications during the night, or for sending sales-y messages or irrelevant content.

The guide also has examples of push messaging done well. In one example, @benr75 praises an airline in a tweet, “Wow, bacon saved by push notification and mobile boarding pass for a gate change”. An app called Citymapper is also praised by @AaronIsSocial, “The new Citymapper London update will send a push notification when you need to get off the bus. Pure Awesome”.