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'Creepy' Facebook app tells you which friends to date


"Yes, it's creepy," admits the man who co-created an app that goes through up to six years of your Facebook friends' relationship histories to determine who's ready for a new significant other. "Of course it's creepy!"

"But here's the thing," Anthony Coombs, who created the On The Rebound Facebook app with two friends, continued. "Let's be honest. You meet someone. If you friend them on Facebook, the first thing you do is check their relationship status. You're going to check and see if they are single ... and then creepily troll through their profile."

"Instead of taking the time to do this on a lonely Thursday or Friday .... we'll do this for you," the 32-year-old added, the slightest bit of a smile in his voice.

Coombs came up with the idea for On The Rebound after a missed opportunity. He'd been interested in a girl for the longest time, but she was already in a relationship. "I was the confidant, someone she talked to," he explained. "When the relationship ended, I specifically did not ask her out [...] I'm aware of when people are on the rebound." So he waited for his romantic interest to be ready for a new relationship.


Unfortunately Coombs waited too long. "I'm not sure how long I waited," he said, "but during this time she ended up hooking up with a guy I knew and they're still together."

When Coombs shared the tale with his friend Jon Tran, the latter immediately started wondering about how someone could use data to figure out when people are most likely to enter a relationship. Together with designer Taylor Lecroy, the two started working on an app the same night.

Over the course of the next two-and-a-half months, the men interviewed relationships experts across the country to figure out how age and gender affect relationships. "People of different ages, who are at different stages in life, react differently to relationships ending," Coombs explained, "and relationship length matters, too."

On The Rebound sifts through relationship data when you connect it to your Facebook account and then it spits out a detailed breakdown of your friends' romantic histories. How long have they been single? Have they had a large number of relationships in the last year? How long does it take, on average, before they jump from one to the next? Based on all this information and some magical formulas, On The Rebound can assign "Rebound Ratings" to your pals and offer advice. "Hopefully he's moved on from his ex by now," the app might point out regarding one friend. "Trust me, he's using you," it might say about another "Use him back!"

Of course, as a disclaimer on the On The Rebound website cautions, the app "is for entertainment purposes only" — so be careful about following all of its advice to the letter.

Want more tech news or interesting links? You'll get plenty of both if you keep up with Rosa Golijan, the writer of this post, by following her on Twitter, subscribing to her Facebook posts, or circling her on Google+.