With today’s ever-changing technology on staying connected 24 hours a day, there has been a new movement emerging for those that do not want to be social in a society that has become so dependent on social networking. Cloak, an antisocial app, compiles a user’s Foursquare and Instagram geolocation information to help them hide from those they do not want to make contact with. Following in the tradition of Google’s Chrome hidden browser search function, on Cloak’s app page, it describes it services as being in a state of anonymity for real life.
The masterminds who created the app are programmer Brian Moore and Chris Baker, a former creative director of Buzzfeed. It seems apparent that Baker is leading this new forefront of the Internet’s antisocial app evolution for hiding users. He is also creator of Rather, a plugin that prevents data on Facebook and Twitter that users do not want to see and substituting them for images of cats. Another antisocial app Baker is involved in, is Unbaby.me, an extension that replaces baby pictures in Facebook news feed with cats.
When the Cloak app is activated, it gives the user a map of the people they follow on Foursquare and Instagram, leveraging the most updated places they have frequented or location tagged photos. Alerts are immediately sent to the user, when a location of a person they want to avoid comes in an approximate range of a block with the user’s physical location. Four hours after the “undesirable” person has tagged their location, their personal icon will fade indicating they have moved elsewhere. Cloak’s developers claims it does not leverage Twitter’s location data because most users have it turned off and when it is on, it very imprecise. Creators of Cloak said the app does not have geolocation data for Facebook, because Facebook has vast data and most people that a user is connected to on their Facebook page do not live in the same city as that user. However, they want to include Facebook location data for the app in the future and have plans for other social networks.
Baker told the Washington Post that the inundation of social networks calls for a resistance of anti-socialism on the Internet. With the ubiquitous “likes” and “fans,” people have reached ad nauseam for becoming “friends” and want to avoid others entirely. He describes Facebook and Twitter as being like a packed elevator where everybody is getting squeezed in. There are those that have not bought into the antisocial crusade of the Internet that Baker thinks will inevitably become more prominent. Editor-in-Chief of App Magazine, Nick Jones told BBC that he is not persuaded by antisocial apps to think that they will become a great consumer demand. He believes it is a gimmick created by developers who want to corner an untapped niche in the social-media market and sell their company to a company like Facebook for a lot of money in the end.
Presently, people’s information and lives are so transparent on the Internet that secrecy and privacy could become a valuable commodity in the Information Age. An antisocial app that hides users is a boon for those who want to stay connected without being “friendly.” As for Cloak, the app is free and only available in the Apple app store. The creators are just concentrating on iOS, but if the app becomes a hit among users it will soon develop an Android version and more features are soon to come.
By Isriya Kendrick