Sidney Hall/Wikipedia (Public Domain)

Astrology app Co-Star’s bizarre push notifications are now a meme

If these alerts sound like a computer wrote them, you're not wrong.


David Britton

Internet Culture

Posted on Mar 22, 2019   Updated on May 20, 2021, 4:29 pm CDT

2018 was a big year for astrology memes. Whether or not you believe in astrology, it’s hard to dislike the online accounts that create hilarious memes for each sign of the zodiac. Astrology memes have fueled a renewed interest in astrology and daily horoscopes, leading to apps like Co-Star. If you’re not already familiar with the astrology app, Co-Star allows you to compare your entire chart with your friends and assess compatibility between two people. The app also gives you a daily outlook and sends push notifications, if you choose to opt in.

These push notifications aren’t in line with usual daily horoscopes—which offer vague and positive advice. Instead, Co-Star’s ‘your day at a glance’ alerts are completely random, and sometimes even slightly offensive. People have begun screengrabbing their notifications and sharing them on Twitter.

All these sassy messages have led to what amounts to free advertising for Co-Star. Now things have reached a whole new level as the strange push notifications have become a meme. People are making fake Co-Star notifications that are only slightly exaggerated versions of the real thing.

Co-Star has even gotten in on the fun. They might be promoting pseudo-science, but never let it be said the creators don’t have a sense of humor.

All of which leads to a very good question: Who’s writing this stuff?

As it turns out, humans may not be doing any of the writing at all.

Earlier this month, Co-Star cofounder Banu Guler told Mashable that the app uses AI technology to generate its astrological predictions.

“Every angle has an astrological meaning. Every single planet has an astrological meaning. Every sign and every house has an astrological meaning,” Guler told the publication. “What we do is take all of that data and cluster it to try to make sense of it, because if we just handed you all the transits, it’s just way too much information to scroll through.”

According to Co-Star’s official website, “Our powerful natural-language engine uses NASA data, coupled with the methods of professional astrologers, to algorithmically generate insights about your personality and your future.”

If Co-Star’s predictions and advice do seem a little on-the-nose for you, you might be worried there is a more scientific reason why. Certainly, if the app was mining your data and browser history it could become incredibly accurate. If Co-Star starts telling you that you’re having lunch with your sister at 12:30 at IHOP it might be time to delete the app.

But Guler insists that’s not what’s happening. “We don’t have that data,” she said. Like most apps, Co-Star does use cookies to collect some user data, like how often you use the app, and on what device, but Guler says the app is not looking at browsing history.

At the very least, Co-Star has gotten everyone’s attention. What happens next depends entirely on whether Saturn is in retrograde during the next new moon.


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*First Published: Mar 22, 2019, 12:18 pm CDT