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For a while now, Facebook has been sending notifications about events that your friends are attending, or even worse, merely interested in attending (the response “Interested” replaced “Maybe” a while back). I used to find it mildly annoying; the irregular notifications didn’t bother me enough that I wanted to figure out how to turn them off, but I also didn’t get much out of them. Until last night.

I woke up Saturday morning and went through the usual routine of checking my phone — a bunch of emails, news updates, and app notifications. But one Facebook notification caught my eye: There was a “party” (that’s the rough translation from Polish, but it’s a very specific type of event) that some Facebook friends were going to and others said they were interested in going to.

This simple notification made my day.

I texted one of my friends who said he was attending. Please keep me posted; let me know if it would be kosher for me to drop by, I told him. Then I went about the rest of my Saturday as planned.

My buddy kept me in the loop about the event, which was very much a private affair for the first few hours. While the night was still young, he let me know that doors were open to the public. And boom, I was off.

Long story short, I ended up dancing the night away.

This is the perfect example of how Facebook, like no other service in existence, can leverage the social data we give it (causing perfectly understandable privacy uproars in the process) to enhance our lives. Sure, Facebook doesn’t get it right most of the time, but when it does, it’s fantastic.

Facebook has added various features like these over the years. I turn most of them off. They’re simply not for me. I curate my Facebook notifications like most people do.

But this weekend, I was reminded just how incredibly powerful they can be, even if all of them are not for everyone. The service has become so much more than just a website and a mobile app. And, of course, Facebook can’t build features that will be useful to all of its 1.59 billion members. But I’m happy that the company doesn’t shy away from experimenting and trying.

Had I not gotten this notification, I probably would have stayed at home, played some video games, watched a movie or a show, and, let’s be honest, at some point ended up browsing Facebook. Instead, I went out, caught up with some guys, danced with some girls, and had a blast.


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