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Cloak: An app that helps you become anti-social

April 3, 2014

As social networks take over our lives, living virtually seems more important than ever. However, for those who feel overwhelmed by the surplus of social networks and want to avoid bumping into virtual contacts in real life, there’s hope.

Cloak, an app with the tagline “Incognito mode for real life,” helps you go undercover when someone you don’t want to meet is close by.

Cloak currently uses your friends’ FourSquare and Instagram accounts to map their locations. The founders plan to launch the app for Facebook soon, although Cloak for Twitter seems a distant possibility since that social network’s vague location service is hardly used.

How Cloak works

All you need to do is click a bubble on a map, to see a friend’s name, location, and how long ago he or she arrived there. If it’s been a while, the image will appear faded. You can set up alerts for people you would rather avoid meeting by flagging them on the map, and if you set a predetermined safe radius, such as a half mile, Cloak will inform you when the person you want to run from is too close.

However, the app can also be used to stalk friends. Since Cloak shows you the GPS coordinates of your friends, you can keep tabs on them while you are sitting at home. If you don’t want to be stalked, you should lock down your privacy settings and be careful who you share your information with.

How Cloak was born

Founder Brian Moore ran into his ex-girlfriend four times in six months after he moved to New York. Necessity being the mother of invention, he hit upon the idea for Cloak.

Together with Chris Baker, Moore came up with Cloak as an iPhone app. “We feel like we’ve reached the point of social fatigue — too many networks with too much information, all the time,” says Baker. “It’s OK to turn off and pick up a copy of ‘Walden’ and just be alone.”

“Twitter and Facebook … are like giant auditoriums where we put on ‘public performances.’ And those have grown exhausting. That’s why Snapchat felt so refreshing,” says Moore.

Even if you don’t want to avoid someone all the time, this app can be useful in some situations. If you’re going on a blind date, for example, Cloak can come in handy. However, it only works to your advantage if your online friends are regular users of Foursquare and Instagram, and they geotag their pictures.

Other apps similar to Cloak, like Hell is Other People, suggest a growing trend toward momentary isolation. Another app, Secret, allows users to send anonymous messages to one another. Looks like Facebook is under siege!

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Category: Trespassing

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