EnemyGraph, a new Facebook application, now allows people to connect by joining forces against a person, place or thing. According to EnemyGraph’s founder, Dean Terry, people are “connected and motivated by things they dislike. Alliances are created, conversations are generated, friendships are stressed, stretched, and/or enhanced.”
Mr. Terry is the director of the emerging-media program at the University of Texas at Dallas.
“What we all do in the program is help our students think critically about social media,” Mr. Terry said to the Chronicle of Higher Education, noting that that is the main goal of EnemyGraph. “On Facebook you’re the product—it’s commoditized expression,” he argues, and he wants students and others to recognize that. “I’m not telling students not to use it, I’m just telling them to understand what’s happening when they use it.”
While Mr. Terry feels that his app helps bring about “social dissent,” he doesn’t think it will lead to an increase in online bullying.
“It’s not necessarily going to make us fight, it’s just going to make us have a conversation,” he said.
Right. Because that’s totally how Facebook works.
Bradley Griffith, the graduate research assistant who did the actual programming for EnemyGraph, however, had a different view. Expecting sparks to fly, he said he is disappointed that EnemyGraph hasn’t been used more for what he called “bullying and high-school dramas.”
He feels Facebook’s current system is artificially nice, so he wants to “encourage people to confront their negative relations to each other head-on as a sort of conversation.” He argues that “when you keep groups or people separate, you can actually cultivate more enmity.”
EnemyGraph currently has fewer than 2,000 likes on Facebook. To be honest, I was almost loathe to cover this story for Strollerderby, because even a criticism of the app gives it publicity. Ultimately, I decided to write about it because it’s yet another thing parents may want to keep an eye on. Facebook allows people to join when they’re thirteen, but it’s well-known that many kids join it at a younger age.
As I wrote recently, grown adults seem to have a hard time keeping things civil on Facebook. I’m all about free speech, but it’s difficult to see this app as anything other than a custom-built tool for cyberbullying, which the programmer readily admits.
(via ABC News)
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