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Creepy Facebook apps mine your profile for bikini shots, break-up status

Liane Cassavoy | June 27, 2013
Some third-party Facebook apps are moving into territory that's downright disturbing.

The world has fallen for Facebook hook, line, and sinker. It puts you in touch with old friends! It lets you share photos and videos! But plenty of people hate it, too--and for equally good reasons. All of that information you put out there could end up in the wrong hands, leading to anything from minor privacy violations to dangerous oversharing.

Facebook isn't to blame. More and more apps built to take advantage of the social network's very social tools are hopping the fence from useful and crossing over into downright creepy territory. I looked at several of these apps, which handle tasks such as searching for photos of your friends in their bikinis to notifying you about people who are newly single, to see just how disturbing they are. Some worked more or less as advertised. Others failed miserably, which is good news, as some of the very concepts made my skin crawl.

On the Rebound
On the Rebound is both more and less disturbing than I expected. My expectations were lowered when I realized that this app's tagline is, "We don't post to your wall...ever." Not exactly a way to earn trust and respect. Neither is the fact that its disclaimer states, "On the Rebound is for entertainment purposes only. It will not help you get laid, but if it does, please let us know."

On the Rebound is designed to analyze Facebook data to "find the perfect time to score a friend on the rebound." But after testing it, I realized that it isn't quite as scary as I'd expected. It's severely limited by the amount of information that Facebook users share. When you connect this app to your Facebook account, it displays a list of your friends who are currently single--but it includes only those who have set their official relationship status to one of the app's choices, which are single, divorced, or separated. That's why it identified only 10 prospects in my tests.

Once your "love interests" are identified, you can select one to analyze. On the Rebound calculates a "rebound rating" on a scale of 1 to 100. It offers its advice on how to proceed, which ranged from "Have a few drinks, make a new 'friend'" to "Is he still out doing the scene?"

I used the app to analyze the profiles of a few friends--while breathing a large sigh of relief that no one would be notified of my actions--and was more amused than alarmed by what it told me. On the Rebound can detail the dates of your friends' last relationships, but only if they've authorized Facebook to share that information with third-party apps, and all 10 of my prospects had declined. It offered the same analysis of two friends: "She's either depressed or a party girl. Figure out which before going forward." My friends couldn't be more different. (You can select to display only males, only females, or both.) And of one friend, who would be far more likely to be at home with a book than out on the town, it asked, "Did you meet her in a club?"

 

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