KillSwitch app wipes out painful reminders of exes on Facebook

We’ve all been through hurtful breakups. But in the age of social media, they can be even more painful, what with the kissy Facebook picture posts and sappy love statuses forever reminding you of your defunct relationship.

Enter KillSwitch. The app bills itself as a fast and efficient way to make breakups less agonizing by “seamlessly and discreetly removing all traces of your ex from your Facebook timeline.”

Without notifying the ex that he or she is being digitally deleted, the app wipes out traces of the person from your Facebook timeline. It also works for deleting other kinds of Facebook relationships, including friends, co-workers, and former in-laws.

“KillSwitch is not a vindictive tool. We’re trying to fill the gap that Facebook and social media does not address,” said Clara de Soto, who co-founded and created KillSwitch -- a product of New York digital marketing agency ClearHart -- with her friend and co-founder Erica Mannherz.


“Facebook intends to reflect the human experience online, but relationships ending and falling out are also a perfectly natural part of life,” added de Soto, who said she came up with the idea after seeing a friend deactivate her Facebook account after a breakup.

Currently, KillSwitch requires that you still be friends with the person you want to erase. De Soto said they’re working on a way to use the app even after “defriending” the person.

Here is how it works:

Identify the person on your list of friends. The app then crawls your profile and aggregates content (photos, videos, wall posts and status updates) linked or tagged with that person’s Facebook ID. In the next step, you have the option to delete all the content or manually cherry pick and remove certain interactions.

In case you might rekindle a relationship and don’t want to remove all the digital memories, the app also provides the option of storing those pictures, videos, etc. into a secret KillSwitch folder that lives on your Facebook account, invisible to others.

How long the deleting process takes depends mostly on how many interactions and posts KillSwitch has to comb through. It can take five to 20 minutes, especially for people with longer relationships and those who have hundreds, even thousands of photos on Facebook.

KillSwitch is working on a “breakup severity slide,” which users would manually slide one way if it was amicable, keeping group pictures with your ex and deleting only the last six months or so. On the other hand, “if he or she tore your heart out and ran it over with a skateboard, slide the other way and it’ll wipe ‘em all,” de Soto said.

De Soto said the start-up is self-funded, and the 99-cent app is available only for Android devices at the moment. An iPhone version is coming soon. Each sale benefits the American Heart Assn. of New York, she said.

De Soto said the KillSwitch app hopes to go beyond break-ups in the future, placing a greater need on tools to better manage digital life.

“People might think that Facebook won’t like a service like this,” de Soto said, “but in essence, what KillSwitch does is allows users to feel even more comfortable about sharing because it allows them to control and cut down some of the unnecessary negative consequences of doing so.”


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