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Show HN: Breakup Notifier (breakupnotifier.com)
264 points by theli0nheart on Feb 21, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 118 comments

A few days ago, my fiancee and her mom were talking about setting up a nice guy with my fiancee's sister. Unfortunately, said guy is in a relationship. My mother-in-law to be suggested it would be nice to know when the relationship was over (jokingly). I blurted out that I could make something that could do that in a couple of hours. By then, I knew I had to do it.

The application was built on Google Appengine, Django, and the Facebook Graph API. I'm checking for status changes every 24 hours, and am using the Appengine mail service to send emails whenever I notice that a relationship status has changed.

Seriously, this is mostly a joke. But enjoy, if you do choose to use it for real.

Only every 24 hours?!? But when the window is open, you RUN! Did Ted Mosby teach us nothing?

+1 for HIMYM reference, I thought the same :)

24hrs is not 'be the first to know', probably all her/his friends will know that before. When I changed status I had a dozen comments in SECONDS.

Would you be able to use real-time updates for this to avoid polling? http://developers.facebook.com/docs/reference/api/user/ I'm not sure if it notifies you on friends changes or just the user that authed your app. I assume the latter.

By the time the status changes it's probably too late for a significant number of cases, whereby 2 weeks later the status is 'in relationship' again.

However, there's probably some worthwhile activity in monitoring wall posts from ex's in the period running up to the status change?

Humans are completely unpredictable mind... haha :)

Hah! Love the idea and story behind the building of it. Thanks for all the details about how you are sending out the mail.

I'm the Product Manager of PostageApp, would you mind if I sent you an email about how Appengine's email service is working out for you?

I will have to add an API to my site http://makeyourgirlfriendhappy.com so people can track for breakups as well. Great idea though, definitely relationship 2.0

Free Version Notification Email:

X is now single.

Paid Version Notification Email (with semantic analysis!):

X is now single.

She broke up with her boyfriend because he didn't pay enough attention to her.

Lately she has been listening to Arcade Fire and eating cupcakes.

Click to phone X now - suggest getting a cupcake together.

'Click here to update your status to talk about how much you like the new Arcade Fire album.'

"Buy the latest Arcade Fire album now." (Amazon affiliate link)

Way way down in the TOS fine print:

"You agree to Creepyest Web Service Ever Pty Ltd sharing your social graph and stalkee selection with our business partners including but not limited to match.com, collegehumor.com, and the NSA"

If you haven't seen it...


An amusing reaction to their winnings at the grammys

Odd. I wonder why I got downvoted. I don't make money if people go to that website. My grammar (afaik) was correct. It seemed to relate to the comment above. I will just remain at a loss and move on.

there is absolutely no reason for these comments to be downvoted as much as they are

buncha arcade fire defending hipsters here im guessing

and dont give me any of that bullshit about comments with no substance because these comments have more substance than many others ive seen that get upvoted

Okay seriously though I've never heard of arcade fire... they won a grammy? I'm confused. And thanks for that site because now I know I'm not alone.

I just pulled up their suburbs song on youtube and now I'm even more at a loss. It's a mad world out there, man.

I'm a big metalhead though. That's my excuse. It'd be cool if metal could win album of the year! ...for technical prowess. It's pretty hard to beat metal in that respect - but it does depend on the subgenre of metal. Jazz is the only other genre that comes close.


I believe he was making one of those things humans like so well... what are they called... ah yes, a "joke".

This is the most pointless, trivial, absurd, creepy app I've seen in a while.

Signed up.

I think it will be massively successful!

Reminds me of the creepy Twitter bot I set up a couple of years ago (which is still going):


The account got a mention on MSNBC; I have no idea why.

A while back, I heard that Facebook can predict when two people in a relationship are about to break up, based on statistical patterns in account activity prior to break-ups.

I'm not familiar with the Facebook APIs or what sort of account activity is statistically significant, but that would be a cool app that's very similar to this. Log in with Facebook, and show which of your in-a-relationship friends has the highest probability of breaking up. Obviously harder than a notification after the break-up, but prediction would be cool and useful.

Pretty sure this idea that Facebook can "predict" when people will break up was based on research by Lee Byron and David McCandless of 10,000 Facebook status updates with the terms "break up" or "broken up", presented as a nice graph[1] as part of a TED talk[2].

[1] http://www.informationisbeautiful.net/2010/peak-break-up-tim...

[2] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pLqjQ55tz-U (skip up to 6:30)

Apparently it was also mentioned in The Facebook Effect


"Zuckerberg sometimes amused himself by conducting experiments ... he studied who was looking which profiles, who your friends were friends with, and who was newly single, among other indicators..."

I think the strongest factor would be when they increase messaging members of the opposite sex?

As can credit card companies, I once heard on a Planet Money podcast I think.

That does sound damned cool, but would facebook give you access to that information?

Facebook isn't going to provide "probabilityOfBreakUp" in their API, but you might be able to build a factor model from accessible information; for instance, number of photos in which a couple are both tagged might be a statistically significant factor.

I think the most significant criteria is how many times one looks at their profile. Facebook has always been very adamant about technically disallowing this for apps.

No, the most significant criteria will be how many times one looks at somebody else's profile. IMs and messages would also be quite significant. But that's even less likely to get released.

...no doubt there will be multiple factors used to conclude this kind of information.

I bet they will provide you a private one if you've got enough venture capital behind you to cut the cheques... (I hear the Winklevoss twins are lawyering up again)

I think that profile viewing habits would play the biggest role, which only FB has access to.

I think we could all speculate for ages about what the biggest factors would be, but it would be just that -speculation.

Kudos for releasing the app!

IMHO, Unless you're married, don't put your relationship status on FB. Set it as hidden, or say nothing. When things change, and in life they do... the people from whom you don't want to hear are the first to notice and / or comment on it.

I even joined the group "I have never had sex with a goat" just so I could leave it at the same time I set my relationship status from "single" to undisclosed. Unfortunately, they got rid of that feature where it would broadcast to all of your friends that you've left a group...

Undisclosed? "It's complicated" seems more appropriate in that case.

Isn't "it's complicated" just Facebook jargon for "unhappily polyamorous"?

I've also seen it used to mean "I'm still sleeping with this person but don't want anyone to think he's my boyfriend."

Fucknemeses would also seem to be an appropriate use-case.

"Acquaintances who occasionally happen to bump into each other. Naked. With our crotches."


Depending on your SO - you might not get that chance. It's not a problem I'm likely to get but I can just imagine the question 'why haven't you updated me as your girlfriend on facebook?'

It beats the alternative: why are you still marked as "single" on Facebook?

If you just leave it off, you can at least make a case out of principle for it.

Is marriage more stable than other forms of relationship?

Statistically, yes. Not, I suspect, because marriage suddenly confers stability and harmony onto relationships where none was previously, but because of a mix of people having to pay a large deposit on the relationship and of non-marriage relationships getting lumped in with pre-hypothetical-marriage relationships.

great idea. this is actually how my wife and i met. no joke. i had just ended a long relationship and changed my status on facebook. she noticed and started messaging me.

People have started relationships on/through Facebook that have turned into marriages. A bit of a blow to the part of me that thinks of Facebook as new.

This app is useless until Felicia Day, Scarlett Johansson or Jenna Fischer accept my friend requests.

Or the flowers you've been sending to their publicists. Or the dead pigeons you've been leaving out of love (and to send a warning message to others) on their front porches.

The fact that this domain wasn't taken restores some semblance of my faith in humanity.

But now it is. Is your faith zero-sum?

I literally laughed out loud when I saw this... great project. I'd start checking the Twilio blog (http://blog.twilio.com/) for contests and implement their API to do SMS and Call notifications, you might win something.

Hahah, thanks :)

With SMS & Call notifications, this could get really out of control. Just imagine...a hot girl you like ends her relationship, and with the Twilio API, Breakup Notifier automatically sets up a "rebound call". Beginning to fear for my morals.

I give you moral approval. Nobody has to know!

And imagine how cool you will be when you bomb her with phone calls along with 120 other men (80 of which are in a relationship) - at the same time.

Not saying it wouldn't be successful tho.

David Weekly did this for MySpace a while back. It was called SingeStat.us: http://techcrunch.com/2006/06/05/find-out-when-your-friends-...

Good times that was - Fox Interactive sent me a Cease and Desist a week after I launched. :)

Next up, an app to see who's monitoring you on Breakup Notifier... "Three people are waiting for you to break up! Click here to find out more!"

One little suggestion: If two people select themselves, why wait until they breakup?

If you mean that the site should say "X is monitoring you", that would be a big privacy issue since one could simply select all friends and see who is interested in oneselves.

Sounds like a feature to be promoted, then.

Didn't Facebook kill something like this a few years ago?

I would be honored to write an app banned by Facebook. One less thing on the bucket list.

I'm wondering why they wouldn't have it as a feature.

Congrats :)

I think they have banned quite a few companies trying to do this. You can still do it on Myspace though ;)

You could take the code base you have written and probably adjust just a few lines of code to turn it into an app that tells you when a friend dumps you on Facebook.

This is actually what I thought you had built, and for me would be even more useful + interesting.

(Or, open source the code and let someone else do it)

Yup, that's what I was thinking too. I'm nearly done working on something just for that, will post to HN soon

I built a Facebook app that does this for personal use. It's broken now since they released API changes, but it's pretty easy to do. Maybe I should go back and fix it and open source it.

Not sure what Facebook's policies say about these sort of notifications though.

Just launched my app for this. http://www.defriendalert.com

This is hilarious. And fits nicely with the expression, "girls are like parking spots; the good ones are always taken."

This app is the equivalent of "circling" the lot instead of parking far away. Would make for good logo inspiration. :-)

That's called "vulching" among folks I know. (If you aren't familiar with it, the word refers to "circling like a vulture" -- at least in this case. A quick search turns up different uses of the word which are similar but not identical.)

I was thinking of building a similar app. it auto posts to your friends wall on their birthdays. New level in automated relationships.

Yes, wouldn't it be great if mundane stuff such as maintaining relationships was automated, so that we could focus on the fun and interesting things in life.

I thought of that, too, a few months ago. But several people had beaten me (and you) to it. (http://www.google.com/#hl=en&sugexp=egsisas&xhr=t...).

Awesome idea!

Do this please: look at my "Interested in" info and only show me people of that gender.

This just came across the news ticker on CNN. Congrats?

Second most popular article in CNN's "Tech" category, at the time of posting.


Wow, what a quick way to get your name out there... Congrats OP.

If I'm honest (and I'm hoping you're welcoming of honest feedback be it positive or negative), I think this is a ludicrous idea. The problem with something this polarising is, I fail to see how it could grow into a product everyone might use, even if it is used begrudgingly. Unless there's something spectacularly clever that I've missed you're not going to ever win over people that are in the camp that I'm in and hate the very idea of it. I didn't like facebook when it came along, but I didn't hate it either. Hence why I eventually signed up for an account. I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that you are actually quite a decent developer, and that if this is indeed the case, please divert your efforts to something more beneficial to yourself and/or society. There are so many talented developers working on 'quirky' web and mobile apps who could provide solutions to problems that enhance people's lives and also stimulate the economy. I'm not saying your efforts aren't impressive in themselves (if you're going by the andy warhol rubric of measuring your feedback in inches you've been quite successful already), just that they show that there's so much more you could do.

The first thing that comes to my mind when I see an opportunity to integrate a Facebook login button with a website is how to attract traffic from Facebook.

One of the most effective ways is publishing updates to the user's wall. However in this case it's tricky. You don't want everyone to know that you'll be notified when Pamela is single.

One of the problems with this from a social perspective is that people lie about their relationship status on facebook.

I don't think people lie about being in relationships (unless it's a joke same sex heterosexual thing), and they definitely don't lie about breaking up. Sure some people won't have a status at all but nothing you can do about that.

I've been in several relationships with 'Al Co Hol'

Good way to jump the queue.

Would work well with facial recognition on beauty.

Another idea: an unfriend notifier. (like with a twitter unfollow notifier)

Here's a Greasemonkey script for unfriend notifications.


you might want to turn off the django debug stuff.

It looks the the auth breaks if your profile doesn't have certain expected fields accessible (gender?).

I read the title completely wrong. I recently had an idea for facebook that breakup notifications. So for instance when its your birthday or someone decides to upload a photo album and tag you in 10 pictures it is sort of annoying to receive email/phone notifications one after an other, this app would simply allow you to set up the ability to put a delay on when you receive them and it pools them together. So if you get one notification it would wait x minutes and then it pools all the notifications you get until no more notifications arrive within x minutes. Then you just get one pretty notification with all the annoying notifications you would have received one after another.

Brilliant - FB: college students nationwide began to capitalize on the ability to catalogue pictures of themselves doing keg stands, and to find out the relationship status of people they are interested in...

At the moment of writing this comment, this app has 88 likes and 446 tweets. I wonder if people don't click "Like" in order not to reveal that they're interested in using the application ;).

As a lot of people said already, this is very creepy. Yet, there will be tons of users who would use this...

By the way, can you get notifications on multiple people? (now, that's really creepy)

Well, if Facebook unblocks you, you might want to look into adding another feature: relationship creation notifications for specific users.

Target user: People like me that don't check Facebook everyday, but would still like to receive an email when their friend finally makes it Facebook-official that him and the girl he's been talking to for weeks are dating.

I'm thinking the app would have to store the present status on its server in order to know of a status change. But isn't storing profile data server-side a violation of FB TOS?

You can store data for up to 24 hours, so all you have to do is look for a change on two consecutive days.

Edit: That was the old policy, the new one lets you store it forever as long as you try to keep it up to date.

So essentially it is ok to store data infinitely as long as you are updating it every 24hrs?

Er wait, that was an old policy. Here's the new one:

"You may cache data you receive through use of the Facebook API in order to improve your application’s user experience, but you should try to keep the data up to date. This permission does not give you any rights to such data."

"should try" sounds pretty vague and unenforceable.

I am absolutely amazed to have read this yesterday, then heard about it again this morning on a local radio station (I'm from the Midwest). Wow. How's it holding up?

A fun app but really is this the "kind" of choice we want to make? I'm worried about these forward-focused apps mean to privacy in the long term.

Just wanted to add a note and say that my local rock radio station (in Phoenix) mentioned breakupnotifier.com today on the morning show. =)

If I secretly admire a person, I would've been stalking her profile very regularly already. This app is not too useful to me personally.

and if 10 persons? eh? :) this is when automation comes in

What kind of person admires 10 persons at once?

a diversified one :)

Who else remembers the singlestat.us? IIRC, facebook killed the service.

Fox Interactive killed it and it was for Myspace. http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2244475


You could monetize this by charging to see if your SO has used the site



I think it's @CapsLock

It's cool to support gay people and all, but if I'm straight I shouldn't have to look at all the dudes when I'm clicking who I'm interested in.

Worst HN comment ever.

Huh? There's several hundred people on that list for me. It took 5 minutes to scroll through and decide which ones to click. It could have taken 2.5 minutes. Clearly this is desirable? If not, please explain.

You managed to turn a simple feature request into subtle anti-gay propaganda, whether you meant it or not.

I see. I think people are being too sensitive.

Your comment isn't offensive to me, but I it looks like it is because of the disclaimer, which you don't need.

If you turned:

"It's cool to support gay people and all, but if I'm straight I shouldn't have to look at all the dudes when I'm clicking who I'm interested in."


"If I'm straight I shouldn't have to look at all the dudes when I'm clicking who I'm interested in."

I don't think people would misunderstand it.

why should he have to be sensitive at all? It's his opinion.

To be understood better. People communicate to convey info.

I understand this. I'm just sick of the recent trend of silencing the freedom of speech when it may offend someone.

very badly phrased, but a filter by gender option would probably be a good feature.

gender and orientation! what's the use to browse the opposite sex persons if they won't be interested in you!

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