For anyone who wasn’t aware, there are a few hundred protesters hanging out downtown in a park plaza two blocks from Wall Street. Despite allegations of Twitter censorship, tweets are collating around the hashtags #occupywallst, #occupywallstreet, #ows and #nycga. So when Betabeat walked past an iPad hooked up to a projector showing short hashtagged messages with the occasional photo, we assumed we were looking at a Twitter client. Turns out that’s not what it is. This app is called Vibe, the “new kid on the social media block,” and it’s something different: a Twitter-esque messaging system built by Hazem Sayed, a professional developer from California who built the app as an anonymous alternative to Twitter, reports the New York Daily News.
Mr. Sayed flew out to the protest after he saw people there were using his app; he’s now earned the nickname “White Hat” as he wanders Liberty Park Plaza, passing out flyers for Vibe and explaining to people how to use it. Vibe is anonymous, temporal and location-specific–perfect for organizing flash mobs (or protests!) or any event you want restricted to the people in the vicinity.
One problem with using Twitter for civic resistance–as it was used in Tehran, for example– is that it creates a real-time record that police, governments and militias can monitor, much like the Occupy Wall Street protesters have a police scanner to keep tabs on what the fuzz is up to. But Vibe limits Big Brother’s surveillance ability by providing an option to limit messages to people within a certain radius. From the App Store description:
Vibe displays thoughts (text and photos) posted by nearby users whether at work, home, school, parties, ball games, conferences, etc. There’s no registration so it’s quick, easy and anonymous.
To contribute to the vibe, just post what’s on your mind and select how far and for how long you want it visible.
You can share text, photos, and videos with people within 160 feet or miles away and for as little as 15 minutes or up to 30 days. You also have the option to tweet your vibes to your followers.
Vibe is useful at work (back channel for meetings and conferences), at school (lectures and campus life), sports (football and baseball games), and for fun (clubs, parties, treasure hunts).
Here are the distance and time options of your vibes:
• Whisper: 160 feet / 50 meters
• Speak: 160 feet / 500 meters
• Shout: 31 miles / 50 kilometers
• Yell: 311 miles / 500 kilometers
• Bellow: worldwide
• 15 minutes
• 1 hour
• 1 day
• 14 days
• 30 days
The site for the app is a placeholder, but it has a Twitter account.