Smartphone users are accustomed to the ever-changing social rules that govern apps. Certain apps may broadcast your location to earn you points, delete your photo and video messages in ten seconds, or pair you with other users based on romantic matching. The common theme is social networking -- interacting with others. But Cloak, the so-called “antisocial network” purports to do the exact opposite.
Using the location tracking tools integrated with other apps, like Foursquare and Instagram, Cloak helps users avoid their virtual friends in person by sending notifications when a flagged contact is nearby.
Other apps play on anonymity to attract users on a different level -- Secret, created by two former Google engineers, aggregates anonymous statements made within a social network -- you know that the person gossiping on the app may be a co-worker, but you don’t know who said what. Whisper and other anonymous apps are after the same thing -- intimate confessions and discussion in a faceless forum.
How is social networking changing to accommodate privacy and anonymity? Would you use an anonymous app, or one intended to help you avoid unwanted in-person interaction?
Karen North, Director of the Annenberg Program on Online Communities at USC’s Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism, expert in social media and internet privacy