Social networks like Facebook and Instagram are intended to help users share their lives, but Jake Banks believes the language of “likes” used on these services forces us to be overly positive and restricts our ability to be ourselves. That’s why he decided to develop an alternative social networking app called Hater, which is intended for sharing all the things you don’t like.
“It’s really an answer to everything out there in social media. All you can do is ‘like’ things,” Banks told Mashable. “I don’t want to be the guy pretending to be someone I’m not. I want to be real and say, ‘I’m sitting in traffic and I hate this.’” While you can post a comment like that on Facebook or Twitter, Banks’ contention is that providing a dedicated community for dislikes frees up users to re-think the type of posts they share and vent a bit.
Banks spent more than a decade directing commercials and running a New York production company, which also developed apps for clients in recent years. As a result, he got interested in developing apps on the side and started brainstorming a social app that might stand out from the many others on the market. “I was looking at the social world and thinking, What’s missing?’” Banks decided the answer to that question was Hater. So six months ago, he sold off his company and devoted himself to working on Hater full time.
The resulting app, which launched on the iPhone Friday just in time for SXSW, and will be available on Android in the next couple months, looks a lot like Instagram. You can take a picture or upload a photo from your phone, share it to the Hater community with a caption, view a feed of other posts from the Hater community and offer feedback. Of course, the intention for Hater is very different than Instagram. With Hater, you might take a picture of yourself waiting in line or stuck in a traffic jam to show how much you dislike it.
Hater’s app also gives users the option to pull an image of something they hate from other sites through the app and to post to the service using an alter ego. “It’s a little more self-deprecating and a little more fun,” Banks says of the app. “You’re sitting at work, working a 12-hour shift and you go on Facebook and you see your friend from high school is on his third vacation of the month, and he’s taking pictures of his food and all that. Now you can snapshot it and Hate it.”
This isn’t the first app to take a negative spin on sharing online. Enemygraph, a Facebook app that launched last year, let users declare enemies rather than friends on the social network. But Banks says Hater doesn’t just want people to be negative for the sake of being negative. He plans to roll out a feature in the future called Hate For Good, which will let users “create awareness” for things that need changing simply by sharing the fact that they dislike it.
“It doesnt have to be so negative,” he says. “You might hate something so much you want to change it, which is the complete opposite of what happens when you Like something.”
Banks also has hopes of eventually turning the Hater brand into a clothing line and perhaps even opening up some storefronts. For right now, though, Banks is focused on building up the app’s community at SXSW. Banks will be at Startup Village in Austin for the event.
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