MENLO PARK, Cal. — To the dismay of some, Facebook has no “Dislike” button. But a new application for the social network may prove to be the next-best thing.
The app, EnemyGraph, encourages Facebook users to list people or places or things they dislike, then share them with like-minded haters as a way of bonding. (“You think Crocs are hideous? I think Crocs are hideous! Let’s be buds!”)
“Most social networks attempt to connect people based on affinities: you like a certain band or film or sports team, I like them, therefore we should be friends,” writes EnemyGraph co-creator Dean Terry in a blog post. “But people are also connected and motivated by things they dislike. Alliances are created, conversations are generated, friendships are stressed, stretched, and/or enhanced.”
Among the app’s most-mentioned “enemies” so far are some familiar targets: politicians, teenybopper Justin Bieber, the Internet Explorer browser, pop group Nickelback, social game FarmVille and, yes, Crocs — those odd-looking plastic clogs that fashionistas love to hate.
Users of the app appear to largely be left-of-center politically. Near the top of the enemies’ list are GOP candidates Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum, Fox News, conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. President Barack Obama is the sole Democrat on the list.
Terry is an artist, technologist and director of the emerging media and communications program at the University of Texas at Dallas. EnemyGraph was developed in one of his classes. He credits grad student Bradley Griffith and undergraduate Harrison Massey with actually building the app.
The EnemyGraph app, or plug-in, is easily installed through Facebook. The idea behind it, Terry said, was to offset what he sees as Facebook’s enforced artificial culture of niceness, which encourages affinities but leaves less room for disagreement.
Say, for example, that you like Kanye West on Facebook but one of your friends lists the hip-hop star as an “enemy.” EnemyGraph will send you a “dissonance report,” pointing out the difference and offering it up for conversation.
“When I saw the first friends list at the beginning of the social media era the first thing I thought was, “where’s the enemies list?” No one ever made one, so we did,” Terry said in his post. He calls EnemyGraph “a kind of social media blasphemy” and predicts Facebook will try to shut down his subversive project.
Facebook did not immediately respond Wednesday to a request for comment.
Thanks to a wave of press coverage, EnemyGraph’s site has been inaccessible at times this week. Terry said on Twitter this week that the app has more than 10,000 users and that new servers are coming.