Cloak App: For Privacy or For Stalking

We all have that one person who follows us around campus, a nagging ex, or even that guy who always stops you on the quad when you're late to class. Technology has now advanced to where you can avoid these awkward people and situations with your smartphone.

The Cloak app — incognito mode in real life, is an app created by Brian Moore and Chris Baker. By keeping track of check-ins made on their social networks, Cloak alerts the user whenever a person they are trying to avoid is close by, and even tracks their position.

Moore was inspired to create the app after running into his ex-girlfriend multiple times. He and Baker realized that while most social networks are about connecting with people, there weren't any about avoiding people you don’t want to talk to.

The point of the Cloak app is to be able to know where your "friends" are at, and know if they are near you. Cloak uses a map display to inform users of the locations of their friends as long as they check-in through social media. Whether you want to avoid them or not is up to the user.

“I would personally use this app as a more positive tool by seeing how close my friends and family are so we could meet up for coffee or lunch,” says Santa Monica College media instructor Sara Brewer.

The app works by first selecting which social networks you want to use to locate your "friends" such as Facebook, Foursquare, Instagram, or Twitter. Once a "friend" has checked themselves in on one of those networks, a bubble pops up on a worldwide map, which indicates the person’s name, location, how many miles away they are, and how long ago they checked in.

For individuals you're desperately trying to avoid, all you have to do is click on their bubble and flag them. This will give you alerts anytime that person is within two miles away from you.

“There are some people you don’t want to see and sometimes you tell them, hey I can't go today because I have to work, and it’s really just because you didn’t want to go," says Santa Monica College student Jaime Garcia. "That is helpful because you can really avoid them if you don’t want to see them."

Compared to Facebook and Twitter, which lets us chat and share our every move, the Cloak app has been seen as the new anti social network. For SMC student Desiree Let Endure, the app would have come in handy for a situation she encountered on campus.

“There was this guy in my class two years ago, he got my number for the class, and still to this day he won’t leave me alone," said Let Endure. "I always bump into him and he’s always texting me, so if I could know where he was so I can get away from him, that would be great."

Ironically, not only can you keep someone away from you but with all the information the app provides, there’s a chance someone can purposely use all that information to stalk you or keep in close contact with you. The app helps them locate anywhere you are, so as long as you keep checking in, you do run the risk of being stalked.

“It’s interesting but it is scary that someone could just start following you around, that can get really bad,” says Garcia.

Others believe that the app would be more successful if it was marketed in a different approach.

“I don't think Cloak will become as big as Instagram or Vine," says Brewer. "I think if they use the same GPS technology and market it with a positive spin, like using it to meet up with your friends, instead of a negative, calling it the antisocial app, it will be more successful.”

The Cloak app – incognito mode in real life, has gained lots of popularity since it was launched. Whether you use it to avoid someone, stalk, or keep in contact, the app gives enough information to stay connected and informed with where your friends are.

Delmy MoranComment