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Keeping Friends Close and Enemies Online

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Keeping Friends Close and Enemies Online

Technology

Keeping Friends Close and Enemies Online

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ALEX COHEN, host:

Back now with DAY TO DAY.

Love thy enemy and collect hundreds of them online. That's the message being spread by Kevin Matulef. He's a grad student at MIT, and he's developed a computer program called Enemybook. It's a spin-off of the popular social networking Web site Facebook where people generally connect with their friends.

Kevin Matulef joins us now from Cambridge, Massachusetts. Welcome to the program.

Mr. KEVIN MATULEF (Graduate Student, MIT; Developer, Enemybook.com): Hi. Thanks for having me.

COHEN: So Kevin, Facebook, for people who don't know, you kind of create your own profile and then you invite your friends that you know to join up and link with you. How does Enemybook work?

Mr. MATULEF: Well, Enemybook works very similarly. Normally, in Facebook when you invite your friend or are invited by a friend, you have the ability to specify why you're friends - maybe you live together or maybe you work together.

With Enemybook, similarly, when you add somebody as an enemy, you have the ability to specify why you're enemies - maybe you live together and didn't get along or work together and didn't get along.

COHEN: Dude, you stole my girlfriend, I hate you, that kind of thing?

Mr. MATULEF: That's one of the options is, you know, so and so hooked up with my ex, or mom, or dog, or whatever you want to put in there.

COHEN: Now are you really filled with this much hate inside or - why did you do this?

Mr. MATULEF: Oh, I'm filled with so much hate. No.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. MATULEF: It's mainly tongue-in-cheek enemies. And there are several reasons for this, I mean, one is, I think, the time is right for a sort of Facebook parody. A lot of people have a very love-hate relationship with Facebook. They use it a lot. They recognize its utility, but they're also fed up with having a lot of friends who they, on Facebook, who they won't really consider friends or...

COHEN: It's kind of got that sixth grade mentality, too, like, you know, I've got more friends than you've got but, you know, who really actually has 32,000 friends?

Mr. MATULEF: Right.

(Soundbite of laughter)

COHEN: Now I understand that, you know, on Facebook, you have to actually ask the other person's permission to be their online buddy, but the program that you've developed, you can just make someone an enemy with or without their permission?

Mr. MATULEF: Yeah. That is a designed choice that I made. I sort of figured that if everybody had to confirm their enemyness, then it would take forever to get this thing off the ground.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. MATULEF: Also, it's sort of a lot of people are using the application to enemy public figures or fake profiles for public figures so that people have made fake profiles for George Bush or Anne Coulter or the band Coldplay. So you can enemy these public figures...

COHEN: Coldplay? What did they do to anybody?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. MATULEF: They're not my enemy but they're a pretty popular enemy, I know.

COHEN: Kevin, it seems to me that you could be treading on potentially litigious ground here. Are you worried at all about, you know, lawsuits maybe?

Mr. MATULEF: I'm not too worried. I mean, I think, ultimately, when you add people as enemies, it's pretty public. It's sort of, you know, it goes on your profile. You see those enemies. People can look at your enemy list, so it doesn't really allow you to do much that you can do with just a blog or a Web site. I think it really - it just provides a framework for people to express their dislikes in a humorous way.

COHEN: I'd like to remind listeners that Facebook, which has become a really successful commercial venture, was developed at Harvard University. You, of course, are at MIT.

(Soundbite of laughter)

COHEN: A little school rivalry going on perhaps?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. MATULEF: Maybe subconsciously. Honestly, I didn't put together that observation until after it was done, but in some ways, I think it's fitting.

COHEN: MIT grad student Kevin Matulef, developer of Enemybook.com. Thanks so much.

Mr. MATULEF: Sure. You're welcome.

COHEN: We hate you.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. MATULEF: Hate you too.

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