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Facebook Will Have a Hard Time Breaking Up With Stalking Apps

Facebook has killed the stalker app BreakUp Notifier, which lets you know when someone's status turns "single" -- but not before it racked up an impressive three million users in three days. And now a similar app, Waiting Room, has arrived. After the popularity of BreakUp Notifier, Facebook would be delusional to believe that it can stop the avalanche of stalker apps hitting the website.

Help facilitate breakups
The goal of Waiting Room is simple: Help your true love realize that he or she is with the wrong person. As Sarah Kessler of Mashable explains:

When you indicate interest in an unavailable Facebook friend, that person gets an e-mail notification that there is someone in his or her "WaitingRoom" (this person need not have the app installed at this point). The identity of the admirer isn't revealed until the recipient has changed his or her Facebook status to single.

The notification lets the admired person know that there is someone else available. There are some ethical issues with the app. For instance, a person could send a fake WaitingRoom notice to his or her partner to encourage a breakup or, alternatively, test the partner's faithfulness. It is these murky waters that will make WaitingRoom and similar apps very popular.

Potential waste of Facebook resources
Facebook does need to monitor and regulate its site, but it needs to be realistic about how throughly it can scrub the website of these apps.

It only needs to look at companies with similar dilemmas:

However, the biggest problem with removing these apps is public demand. From Monday to Wednesday, three million people signed up for BreakUp Notifier -- a small fraction of all Facebook users, but a significant enough number to encourage similar services. Facebook should shut down apps it doesn't find appropriate, but it also needs to understand that the site will not be free of stalker apps anytime soon.

Photo courtesy of Thomas Euler // CC 2.0

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