As Prism underscored, we have no true private space on the Internet–but on social networks, this point is doubly true. Just as acquaintances and frenemies become far more familiar than necessary with your lives (and eating habits!), so too can an entire layer of companies stalk your every move for eventual profit.
In response, Federico Joselevich Puiggrós and Intimidad Romero created an app called Intimatic. For iOS, Android, and Mac/PC/Linux, Intimatic is a camera app that automatically pixelates any face in a photo. So when you one-button share your shots to Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter, a piece of your identity is protected.
“We want to stimulate people to think about the meanings of public and private,” Puiggrós tells Co.Design, “to understand what is going on around the exposure we have when sharing our lives in the public spaces of the digital layer in our lives.”
Whereas most of us think about public as something like Facebook and private as something like our own homes, Puiggrós points out a strange irony hiding in the wordplay, that “private” companies often infiltrate public spaces. So something like your public tastes can be captured to, in essence, become their privately analyzed property.
Testing Intimatic myself, I found the app to be both consumer-centrically fun and academically fascinating. Aiming my iPhone camera at my face, a neat line of pixels obscured my identity. Aiming it at a collection of Fast Company magazine covers, everyone from Barack Obama to Shaun White was wiped away. But just as interestingly, if Intimatic doesn’t spot a face in your lens, it will just drop a line of pixels across the center of the frame, masking everyday scenes and objects from prying eyes.
In essence, Intimatic is a few things. It’s a middle finger to corporations who suck in your identity to know what’s hip. It’s a cutting commentary on our own blind impulse to overshare. And it’s a way of obscuring an event from others–a sort of social burqa–to save a little bit of a moment just for ourselves.