Apps that disconnect: Erasing your ex on Facebook; blocking third-party trackers

Disconnecting in this constantly connected world? There are, as they say, apps for that.

•  Sexy stuff first: Breaking up is hard to do, but apparently it’s harder in the Facebook age. Or at least, forgetting is. Enter KillSwitch, whose motto is “making breakups suck less,” according to its home page, which also says that despite its fierce-sounding name it’s “not a vindictive tool” but an attempt to help the healing process.

It’s an app that can remove traces of your ex from Facebook, from “kissy pictures” to “sappy statuses” without you having to resort to drastic measures in the midst of your heartbreak, such as deactivating your account. The app makers — a digital marketing agency in New York, according to the Los Angeles Times — say you give them the name of your former special friend (or others) and they do the rest, allowing for the deletion of selected or all posts and photos.

The catch, at least for now: You still have to be Facebook friends with the person you’re desperately trying to forget.

• Then there are those pesky third-party sites that can suck up Internet users’ personal information without their knowledge.

Disconnect, a Palo Alto-based developer founded by a former Google engineer and a consumer-rights attorney, says its new app, Disconnect 2, can see and block more than 2,000 sites that track users. It’s a pay-what-you-want extension for the Chrome and Firefox browsers.  The 2-year-old startup said in a press release this morning that it will give 25 percent of payments to organizations that support its mission, which is to “help people understand and control their online data.”

The app’s release comes on the heels of efforts to help online users become more aware of what’s being done with their digital tracks. For example, in California, the recently reintroduced Right to Know Act would require companies to tell people what kind of information has been shared about them and with whom.



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