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EnemyGraph, the App that Lets You Share the Names You Love to Hate

BY Nick Judd | Wednesday, April 4 2012

The creators of EnemyGraph, a Facebook app that asks you to indicate your enemies rather than your friends, are back in the laboratory.

The application lets users indicate people or ideas they hate — either friends or celebrities — and select an archenemy to tell the world who or what they hate most of all. It was created by University of Texas at Dallas Emerging Media and Communication student Bradley Griffith, the emerging media program director, Dean Terry, and Harrison Massey, also a student in the program, as a critique of the way social networks like Facebook work today, it was created in part to make a point about social media: Many interactions are structured to give you no other option but to be positive.

After all, it's fairly common for someone to comment on a Facebook post with just one word: "dislike" — but there is no "dislike" button. The director of UT-Dallas' emerging media program, Dean Terry, told me in an interview that Facebook's rules for developers prohibit creating one. I couldn't find such a rule, but did see that Facebook's rules do prohibit material that might be "confusingly similar" to an official Facebook feature, such as the "Like" button.

By allowing people to self-identify and organize themselves around what they hate, rather than what they like, EnemyGraph does as much to make people think about the way their interactions are designed online as it does to actually create groups.

Which isn't to say the app isn't creating connetions. Since earning a cascade of media mentions, EnemyGraph's user base has skyrocketed from around 300 to about 40,000 users, hating on everything from the film "Twilight" or Justin Bieber to Rick Santorum and Fox News. Until a recent contact with Facebook, Terry half-expected the company to shut down their app — but figures it's clear now that his students, who built out the application, are on to something.

"I feel like our intuition about people wanting to express dislike about a variety of things in an aggregated fashion and in a social context has been confirmed," Terry wrote to me in an email earlier this week. "The next step is to think about how to facilitate alliances around things people are upset about."

This post has been updated.