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Apps provide secrecy in a new era of privacy

Have you been terrified since Snowden’s Christmas message that no one will live in an era of privacy? Well, if you are concerned and would like to achieve a modicum of privacy in your conversations on mobile devices there are apps for privacy, reassures The New York Times.

A number of new apps including Wut, Secret, Confide, Popcorn and Telegram that have come out in recent months are offering hope to us. They are intended to let users either talk secretly with people they know, or blurt out random comments to total strangers.

For example, Confide and Telegram allow you to send messages to people that ‘self-destruct’ after they have been viewed. Very Ethan Hunt style is for those wanting no record to be found.

Confide was developed by former AOL executive, Jon Brod and Howard Lerman, chief executive officer of location-services company Yext. Such startups are betting that corporate audiences will be hungry for a secure mobile messaging app suited to their needs. No worries about lawsuits and other legal entanglements.

With Confide, text is blocked out and can be seen only when you slide your finger over the screen. Receiving messages makes you feel like some sort of James Bond character.

Telegram offers private chatrooms where you can set a ‘timer’ and all the text vanishes after a set period of time in usually one to five minutes. Nothing will be available for legal actions.

Many of these messaging start-ups are clearly variations on SnapChat, an app that allows you to take and send a vanishing picture.

But there are some that go beyond just messaging and are created to be social but anonymous. Secret, which seems to be relishing its 15 minutes of fame, allows you to gossip anonymously about whatever you want. It’s unclear if the ‘secrets’ being shared are fact or fiction or from whom they came. It is a mobile game of truth or dare to what you are telling.

The Secret app is not for vengeful people but there is some venting of negative feelings. Apparently Silicon Valley residents complain about venture capitalists. You can be negative because there is no consequence of ownership.

In an email message, David Byttow and Chrys Bader, co-founders of Secret, said the app was not intended to be full of spite, but rather to increase authenticity and empathy between people online. ‘Though, given the nature of the product, each user has their unique vantage point. And some of those vantage points will not publicly highlight the most positive aspects of Secret,’ messages the do-founders.

The new ‘feel good’ app is called Wut and is a bit like Facebook with only your friends’ status updates and nothing more. It’s dead simple. When you send a message, only your friends will see it, yet they will have no idea the note came from you unless you say.

Paul McKellar, founder of Wut, has teamed up with Beamer Wilkins, a designer and app maker, and the two released the current incarnation of Wut last month.

Mr. McKellar said Wut is intended to be ‘a very lightweight and very casual social network.’ He said there was ‘no doubt or fear with what you’re posting; there’s no anxiety.’

The messages live on the network for a short time; Mr. McKellar said they were deleted as soon as possible from the servers and there is no ring or vibration. It is silent when it appears on the app.

There is short ranged Popcorn Messaging, which allows you to privately chat with anyone in a one-mile radius of your smartphone. It is great for soccer games, family outings and mall shopping.

Can these apps support a moral cross over the line as to cheating on a spouse or significant other? There is always that possibility but no one will know but you.

To view other related articles on apps and mobile device technology, please visit the list below in Author's suggestions and view the video atop this article on the secrecy available in the Confide app.

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