Should incest-warning app be a Facebook service?

Providing a sorely needed patch to a market gap, IslendingaApp shows you genes before you remove your jeans. It is, sadly, an Iceland-only service, but might it be expanded and developed by everyone's favorite site?

Chris Matyszczyk
3 min read
Wait. Kiss phones first. Howcast/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Meeting someone in a club or a bar -- or even a church -- has its dangers.

You don't know who they really are. You don't know what they're like in a bad mood, as opposed to a bed mood. And you have no idea if they're really your cousin.

Such dilemmas have struck all those who are seeking love, or merely the comfort of warm, fragrant skin on a chilly Wednesday night.

Some extreme intellectuals in Iceland have decided to assist society's thrust toward safer human interaction.

They have created IslendingaApp, an app that gives you fair warning if the target of your pupillary expansion is, in fact, a close relative.

You might imagine that there isn't a great need for such a service. I would point you to many parts of the world where it is evident at every social event that it is vital. (And no, I am not referring to certain peculiar parts of North Dakota. Well, not exclusively.)

The three students of software-engineering at the University of Iceland who thought they'd attempt a little social engineering, before the edifice that is Iceland melted into a troubling genetic pool, should be commended.

The app involves two interested parties at a party letting their phones kiss first. Their lineage is then displayed, illuminating a path that the evening ought to take. But the app is available only in Iceland.

Which got me to thinking.

These fine students are merely using the data at their disposal in order to help society prosper.

There may be a much wider application for it. Firstly, yes, of course, the rest of the world needs this badly, so Facebook could buy its principles and principals.

The social network could then use its vast resources to partner with genealogical databases and provide a halting hand before yours begins to wander.

This would be particularly helpful for royal families all around the world. Facebook could charge each royal at least $10 million in order to discover that which certain dowagers and courtiers might wish to have left hidden.

However, if Facebook were to go beyond genealogy and delve into its own vast trove of data goodness, it might expand into all sorts of quite excellent, socially desirable areas.

Having secured the world against the troubles of in-breeding, Facebook could partner with the likes of OKCupid to give you an instant reading on the likelihood of your conjoinment with your newly met friend being a success.

It could use its (and OKCupid's) trove of data to tabulate whether someone was volatile or calm, flighty or merely flirty, sane or far beyond the norms of world peace, often sober or never. It could make a judgment whether this person was compatible only with a depressive wolf or a vegan.

With just one kiss of your phones, you and your new acquaintance could enjoy the equivalent of "and the survey said."

As always, you'd be free to make the final decisions yourselves, but at least you'd have some deeper, data-driven sense of what you might be getting into.

You'd have a far greater chance of avoiding regret, obsessive texts, incriminating gossip, and the ugly stares of all those who saw what you were doing the night before.

This would finally be a true and lasting benefit of there being so little privacy on Facebook.

For once, the site would be thinking about the very, very best interests of its users and contributing to their having a more congenial evening and life.