Brow Beat

John Oliver Puts His Foot Down on Pointless Push Notifications

Last Week Tonight may not be back with new episodes until Feb. 16, but the show’s air horn sound effect is working overtime in a new web exclusive about push notifications. John Oliver cracked down on outlets that abuse the function to promote non-urgent news stories or recipes. (Looking at you, New York Times.) He even laid out some handy criteria for when a push notification is really warranted:

1. Is there something I should be doing differently?
2. Is this something I need to know now?

By that logic, “zombies are real, and they’re not vaccinating their children” would be push-worthy, but CNN asking whether the milk man can stop climate change is not. Regardless of substance, Oliver notes that any push notifications, even trivial ones, can be useful—but for an unexpected reason.