Culture

An Incredibly Popular Astrology App Is Now Just Straight Up Insulting Its Users

"Did Co-Star just tell me to kill myself."

Co-Star messages

If you haven’t heard of Co-Star, congratulations on having no queer friends with dangly earrings.

The astrology app has been around since 2017, but in the past six months or so, it’s gained a lot of traction for its in-depth daily astrology readings and compatibility cross-checking. But something’s awry in the stars, as the daily push notifications it’s been sending this month have been increasingly dramatic and more moody than a triple Taurus.

There’s a heap of astrology apps available, but Co-Star has caught on for a couple of reasons. According to its site, the app uses ‘NASA data’, astrologers and AI to “algorithmically generate insights about your personality and your future”.

By grabbing your Sun, Moon and Rising signs — the last of which requires an accurate birth time within two hours, prompting an industry of late-night texts to mums across the world as people download it at parties — the app says it can accurately offer you readings. It also tests out your compatibility to other users across categories like “sex and aggression”, “basic identities” and “philosophies of life”.

Who knows if there’s anything to it, but it’s a lot of fun. Well, it was a lot of fun, until it started offering some pretty pass-ag messages. Anecdotally, last week I received these messages in three consecutive days: “Talking shit together isn’t the healthiest way to connect”, “Light a candle for a dead loved one today”, and, finally, “Ask for help.” It’s a little removed from the usual job and romance advice, huh?

I’m far from the only one — since March, Twitter has been aflutter with people posting screenshots of auspicious or particularly downcast push notifications. Most messages seem to take truisms and aphorisms to a new level. There’s something vaguely aggressive about the way they pop-up on your phone divorced from any context, seemingly loosely fitting in with wherever you are at that moment.

Meanwhile, our friends at Pedestrian received a message asking them to “research the pharmaceutical industry”: Often, the notifications read like the app is negging you.

Junkee has reached out to co-star for a little bit of info about their ‘day at a glance’ messages, and will update you if we hear anything back. We have our own theories, though. In recent months, Co-Star’s social media presence has become increasingly meme-based, as if to prompt re-tweets of being ‘read for filth’ by the account.

These notifications seem tailor-made to be shared and spread online — and it doesn’t take an AI-generated chart reading to know that’s a recipe for success. They’ve even re-tweeted a few of the jokes surrounding the push notifications, so they’re evidently in on the joke. Looks like they’ve taken their own app’s advice: