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A new app for Chinese netizens recovering from failed love: the 'Divine Breakup Tool'

A university student has developed a new program to help delete photos and messages of an ex-lover on social media

PUBLISHED : Monday, 19 August, 2013, 5:44pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 22 August, 2013, 11:57am

Breakups have become complicated in the digital age, especially when couples who have agreed to go their separate ways are suddenly confronted with left-over fragments of their relationship in the form of internet photos and social media posts.

Nowhere is this more obvious than in China, where photos of boyfriends and girlfriends are enthusiastically shared online at an alarming rate – until the relationship turns sour.

Luckily, Chinese web-users seeking to remove online traces of their exes may have a new partner to help them ease the pain – the “Divine Breakup Tool” designed by Xie Mengfei, a 21-year-old computer science student in Hubei province’s Wuhan University.

“With [this progam], you can have an easy breakup,” Xie told China News reporters in a August 16 interview. “By clicking on ‘start breakup’, you can un-follow your ex-partner and delete his or her comments under your weblogs and photos.”

Xie’s program, designed for use with the Chinese social networking site Renren, is actually a downloadable application from the Google Chrome Web Store.

After users download and install it, the application asks for a Renren password and the name of the ex-lover, and then offers a variety of options for cutting off contact.

Private messages, photos, online statuses and all other traces of the former significant other can instantly be wiped away from view, giving netizens the opportunity to forego the time-consuming process of deleting these bits of information one by one.

The “Divine Breakup Tool” went live on August 13 - the day of Qixi Festival, or Chinese Valentine’s Day. According to Xie, the program has been a hit, especially amongst his friends who previously lamented how difficult it was to erase all online traces of an ex. The application has been downloaded more than 300,000 times.

Chinese netizens on Sina Weibo, which has proven more popular than Renren in recent years, were nevertheless enthusiastic about Xie’s creation. Some called the app “heartless”, but most hoped that Xie would develop similar programs for other social media sites.

“I like this,” one user wrote. “Simple and time-saving.”

Xie has yet to comment on whether he plans to continue developing his app. But if he does, he will not be the first programmer to tinker with the idea of dealing with the digital remnants of a breakup.

Various sites have emerged to help netizens cope with failed relationships, ranging from blogs like The Breakup App to sites like Never Liked It Anyway, which is “a place where once loved gifts from once loved lovers get a second chance” – or, in other words, an online forum where users can sell gifts from their ex that they no longer want.

Most recently, on July 27, two American developers launched an Apple app that lets users send pre-programmed breakup text messages.