The Internet is about to get even snarkier. EnemyGraph, a Facebook plug-in developed by Dean Terry, director of the emerging media program at the University of Texas at Dallas, allows users to litter their wall with disdain instead of fandom.
“It’s social-media blasphemy, in that we’re suggesting that you share differences you have with people and share things that you don’t like instead of what you do like,” Terry told the Chronicle of Higher Education. “I think social media needs some disruption. It needs its shot of Johnny Rotten.”
Terry, whose “enemies” include self-help guru Deepak Chopra, the color red, and the band Journey, said he would have preferred “dislike” to “enemy”—perhaps to sate the 3 million people who have signed a petition for a “Dislike” button—but the term “dislike” is banned by Facebook for fear of upsetting advertisers, who are reliant on what Terry calls the online destination’s “country club atmosphere.”
“In a way,” Athima Chansanchai of MSNBC quoted Terry as saying, “we are misusing the word ‘enemy’ just as much as Facebook and others have misused ‘friend.'”
Among the people, places and things that have been “popular” or trending in the app’s first month: People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Internet Explorer, Rick Santorum and, of course, Justin Bieber and Nickelback.
According to Chansanchai, EnemyGraph runs “dissonance queries” that match an “enemy” with a “like” and categorize the relationship in a box labeled “Social Dissonance.” The difference of opinion is supposed to start fights… er, important conversation.
On her test-drive, Chansanchai listed “oranges” as her first enemy, yielding a response that either means she is an anomaly or the app needs more users: “There is currently no social dissonance between you and your friends. The world’s demons rest.”
Bradley Griffith, the UT-Dallas graduate research assistant who coded EnemyGraph, said his product is a necessity: “It’s dangerous for us as a society to move in this direction where everything has its worst qualities removed from it.”