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3/24/2014
12:56 PM
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Cloak App Helps You Avoid Social Contacts

Meet Cloak, the antisocial media app that uses your friends' Instagram and Foursquare location feeds so you can avoid running into them.

LinkedIn Tips: 10 Steps To A Stronger Profile
LinkedIn Tips: 10 Steps To A Stronger Profile
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There's no shortage of social apps that help you connect with friends both in real life and over the web -- take Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Foursquare, for example. But what about those serendipitous moments that you'd rather avoid, such as bumping into an ex-girlfriend or co-worker during a night out?

Enter Cloak, a new "antisocial app" that uses your friends' social media activity to pinpoint their location, so you can steer clear of them in real life. Co-creator Brian Moore developed the app after he endured four awkward encounters with his ex-girlfriend in six months after moving to New York.

Cloak, which is free and currently available only for iOS, combs your Instagram and Foursquare accounts for your friends' latest check-ins. Then it adds their last-known location to a map. You can set up notifications for specific people you want to avoid, and the app notifies you when they're within a certain radius of you.

Once you connect your Instagram and Foursquare accounts, Cloak loads a map of your location and alerts you to how many of your friends are nearby. You can zoom in and out of the map to view more, and you can click on the bubbles to view the exact locations of where they last checked in. Tapping a bubble also lets you flag a user, which means the app will alert you when that user is within two miles, one mile, half a mile, or one block of you.

[The price Facebook paid for WhatsApp isn't the only surprising figure. Read Facebook's WhatsApp Buy: 10 Staggering Stats.]

Moore spent the last eight months with co-founder Chris Baker developing the app. The duo told Newsweek that the app got more than 100,000 users in a week, thanks in part to a plug from The Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon. Baker is no stranger to antisocial apps, either: He created the popular browser extension unbaby.me, which rids your Facebook news feed of annoying baby pictures.

Cloak's real usefulness, however, hinges on how active your friends are on Instagram and Foursquare. The app has not yet integrated Facebook's geolocation data, though the founders said they plan to integrate it. That would no doubt improve the service. Twitter's location data is omitted because it is too vague, according to Cloak's App Store description.

As social media apps continue to push users to share more, Cloak provides users with a different approach to privacy. Have you found the app useful? Share your thoughts with us.

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Kristin Burnham currently serves as InformationWeek.com's Senior Editor, covering social media, social business, IT leadership and IT careers. Prior to joining InformationWeek in July 2013, she served in a number of roles at CIO magazine and CIO.com, most recently as senior ... View Full Bio

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SaneIT
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
3/26/2014 | 8:20:12 AM
Re: Must admit, it's clever
I think if you're using social media as a way to avoid people then you might have a co-dependency issue.  I'm not a psychologist but I'm going to step out on a limb and say that having anxiety about running into someone on the street that you have friended via a social media site is probably not healthy.  I hear about Facebook stalking every now and then so I understand that protecting your information can be important but if you're allowing someone access then trying to avoid them something just doesn't add up.
Michael Endler
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Michael Endler,
User Rank: Author
3/25/2014 | 5:17:10 PM
Re: Must admit, it's clever
Haha, absolutely! I can see this being very popular with people between 12 and 25 or 26, with use declining precipitously thereafter.

I do wonder if there's a bigger movement of some interest here, given the unbaby connection. A lot of people want to keep all of our sources for content (e.g. all of our Facebook friends and all of Twitter contacts, including the "fringe" ones) but we don't want to be burdened by all the junk those sources sometimes (most of the time?) produce. Seems like Facebook, Google, Twitter and everyone else is trying to figure out how to create this sort of intelligent filter, but no one's cracked it yet.
Kristin Burnham
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Kristin Burnham,
User Rank: Author
3/25/2014 | 3:13:45 PM
Re: Must admit, it's clever
I can especially see this as useful if you're a college student. "So-and-so is leaving class at Building X, which means I should take This Street instead of That Street to avoid him at all costs." Ha.
Kristin Burnham
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Kristin Burnham,
User Rank: Author
3/25/2014 | 3:12:12 PM
Re: Must admit, it's clever
The same can be done with Facebook lists, you just need to take the time to do it. I use several lists -- one for my best friends, one for coworkers (sorry, guys!), and one for my subscribers. I post certain thing just for friends and some of my stories just for my subscribers, for example, because I know not everyone is interested in everything I share.
Lorna Garey
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Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Author
3/25/2014 | 10:34:00 AM
Re: Must admit, it's clever
I know a few people who have "professional" and "personal" Facebook accounts, but that seems exhausing to me. In some ways, that's the beauty of Google+, the ease of setting up circles. Too bad no one uses it.
Laurianne
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Laurianne,
User Rank: Author
3/25/2014 | 9:46:41 AM
Re: Must admit, it's clever
What about the former colleague or family member whose friend request you did not feel polite declining? That is one of the odd realities of today's social networks. It can be hard to say no. I know someone who keeps a Facebook account but goes on only once every few months, for a binge catch-up. Otherwise, off the Facebook radar.
Lorna Garey
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Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Author
3/25/2014 | 9:34:36 AM
Re: Must admit, it's clever
Guys, you're looking at this like adults! The market is teens and twentysomethings who thrive on drama and wouldn't think of not accepting a friend request from that guy they met two years ago at their cousin's sister's wedding.
SaneIT
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
3/25/2014 | 8:19:43 AM
Re: Must admit, it's clever
I think the right move in an instance where you don't want people to know where you are would be to remove all those fringe "friends" that you are trying to remove.  I know it's unthinkable but if you feel the need to sneak around so someone doesn't see you then you need to evaluate your relationship with them.  I think this is a solution to a bigger problem, that being over subscribing to social media to make sure you don't miss anything or to feel like an insider.  Personally I don't pay attention to many people on social media and if one of my "friends" on any social media source bumped into me on the street I would be more than happy to spend a few minutes chatting IRL.  Maybe what we need is an app that removes people who cause you to hide.
Thomas Claburn
IW Pick
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Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
3/24/2014 | 7:07:18 PM
Re: Must admit, it's clever
>I really wanted to mock this app

Allow me. First off, this is an app for avoiding your "friends," specifically ones who use social networking services. There's something wrong with that.

Unless you've annoyed or alienated major portions of a city and they all carry smartphones that broadcast their location, this is going to be an exercise wasting your time.

If you really need to avoid someone, invest in a hoodie and skulk about. Or stay home.

That said, the creators of the app know a good PR opportunity when they see it. That anyone cares suggests just how sick we all are of the pressure to share and feed the social network beast with content.
Kristin Burnham
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Kristin Burnham,
User Rank: Author
3/24/2014 | 5:04:56 PM
Re: Must admit, it's clever
Haha. The app has only been out a week, so I'd imagine that if your significant other uses an Android device, you days creeping around corners to ensure s/he's not around are limited. :-)
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