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Those of you waiting for the inevitable Social Network Backlash, your time is at hand. New Year’s Day 2010 has been universally accepted as the date on which babble about monetizing your personal brand, plus pretend-casual mentions of your follower count on Twitter, went from being sufferable to being Totally Over, Shut Up.
The perpetual marker for this milestone will be Suicidemachine.org, a Dutch site that turns a devilish trick on the all-too-friendly application programming interfaces built into Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and MySpace. These APIs allow other sites to perform actions for you remotely on social networks, once given your username and password to login.
The Web 2.0 Suicide Machine does something most API enthusiasts probably didn’t think of: Give the Web 2.0 Suicide Machine your username and password for any of the above-mentioned sites, and the machine springs into action before you can stop it. First, it will immediately change your password, so you can never login to, say, Twitter again. It does this onscreen, in your browser window, in front of your suddenly-hesitant eyes. You’ll see your password replaced with an unknowable blurb. The Suicide Machine then clicks the OK button for you. This isn’t a simulation, it’s real. You’re locked out.
Then, the machine will display your network of friends at the remote social network, leaving you to watch powerlessly as, one by one, they are erased from your network. Blip, blip, blip. Your old boss on linkedIn? Gone. Finally gone.
Austrian-born programmer Gordan Savicic seems to be at least part of the brains behind the Suicide Machine. He told Computerworld earlier today that 500-plus Facebook users had already unfriended the world forever, removing more than 50,000 friend connections.
That was before Facebook blocked the machine, granting Savicic’s creation instant stardom in the flashmob media of the Internet. To counter Savicic’s claims that he’d been cheated, a Facebook spokesperson sent reporters a prepared statement that said, in part, “Web 2.0 Suicide Machine collects login credentials and scrapes Facebook pages, which are violations of our Statement of Rights and Responsibilities.” That seems to be true. But come on, people, it was fun.
It’s still up in the air whether or not Savicic will end-run Facebook’s block. The other three networks seem to be allowing it to erase personal networks. If you’re wary of test-driving the site, you can watch a promo video that shows the machine in action over the weekend.
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