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March 20, 2014

Does new cloaking app show that social media is ‘growing up’?

With 'Cloak' you can hide from your 'friends'.

By Ben Sullivan

A new app available on the App Store, called Cloak, uses data from location-centric social network Foursquare and Instagram to home in on your contacts’ locations and lets you actively avoid them.

"Cloak scrapes Instagram and Foursquare to let you know where all your friends, ‘friends’ and nonfriends are at all times so you never have to run into that special someone," says the App Store listing.

Cloak was co-founded by former Buzzfeed executive Chris Baker, who views the app as a fight back against some of the bigger social networks, and the lack of anonymity found on them.

"Things like Twitter and Facebook are packed elevators where we’re all crammed in together," he said to the Washington Post. "I think anti-social stuff is on the rise. You’ll be seeing more and more of these types of projects."

William Webb from the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) said: "The new Cloak app, which will send you alerts when certain people are in your vicinity, is the latest in a line of ‘private’ or ‘anti-social media’ apps. We’ve already seen the launch of WhatsApp to add instant messaging to Facebook – and Snapchat, which deletes photographs and videos seconds after they have been viewed. There seems to be a growing move away from the all-inclusive style of social media championed by Facebook – to one where people can maintain a degree of secrecy and anonymity.

"We could see this as social media ‘growing up’. Initially there was a lack of easy ways to connect and interact with friends and colleagues – but now this need has been widely met and we’ve moved to a situation of, in some cases, having too much connectivity. Innovation and new applications will allow us to become more intelligent and selective as we gradually learn how to use technology to interact better."

The app has, however, received negative feedback for not including two of the largest social networks, Facebook and Twitter, in the service. The app’s makers have said that they will add more social networks in the future.

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