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The Short Version: Cluster puts users privacy concerns first with its unique photo-sharing app. Since its launch in 2012, the platform has empowered users to create members-only photo albums and engage with a curated audience of friends, significant others, and family members. Now you can post pictures of your date nights or videos of your children without worrying about those private memories becoming public.
Social media has made it easier than ever to share every detail of our lives from running errands to announcing pregnancies. However, some people treat their Story like it’s a personal diary without realizing who’s reading along.
When you post wedding photos on Facebook, for instance, you can rack up hundreds of likes from friends, family members, and acquaintances, but you can also get unexpected views from exes, former classmates, and that one guy you met that one time. It’s difficult to restrict access to your personal albums when you’re in such an incredibly public space, so people can end up sharing their personal memories with a vast, anonymous audience online.
Cluster, a private photo-sharing app, is on a mission to help individuals, couples, and families share albums on their terms. The app supports private, invite-only groups where people post photos and videos geared toward a specific audience. For example, couples can form a two-person group to exchange baby photos, and friends can build a 10-person group focused on food or travel. You decide who you allow to see your albums.
In the wake of so many privacy scandals in the social media industry, Cluster has become a relevant alternative for people who want to maintain their privacy while socializing with loved ones and preserving cherished memories.
The platform helps users exercise greater control over their albums and keep eyes-only content out of the public domain.
“It was a phenomenal year. Users are really responding well to having a private place to share photos and videos,” said Steve Simitzis, Operating Partner of Cluster. “We hear from customers through our help desk that Cluster has become an integral part of their family lives.”
Cluster empowers users to selectively share photos and videos by creating groups on the app. Only members of the group can see the content shared in that space, and you’ll receive notifications about every new post. The app does not have any ads. Instead, Cluster sells photobooks to generate revenue.
The app has many applications, but all of them boil down to privacy. Thanks to Cluster, friend groups can share memories from a wild bachelor or bachelorette party while making sure those photos stay between the people who were there. Couples can create a two-person group and build intimacy in a private forum. Many families use the app to share pictures and videos of their children with loved ones they trust.
“Cluster is a great home for privacy sharing,” Steve said. “We take user data privacy so seriously that this past year we completed data privacy certifications with local state school authorities in California, New York, and Connecticut.”
Since its launch in 2012, Cluster has taken user feedback into account and devised updates that will improve the experience. For one thing, users seem to enjoy creating multiple groups (some users have over 100 groups tied to their accounts), so the team has focused on making sure it’s easy to manage multiple groups on the platform.
“We’re going to continue working on making it easy to start and share groups,” Steve said. “There is a ton of opportunity there as users start to really increase the number of groups they own and manage.”
Cluster is also adding new merchandise to its business model. The app will soon offer its users canvas prints, greeting cards, photo mugs, photo blankets, mouse pads, and other customizable products inspired by their photo albums.
“We’ve found a vibrant and viable business that can support the company and respects the community,” Steve said. “Our customers love the merchandise, and it fits with our model to support the service with valuable products that don’t exploit customer data.”
Most social media sites represent a trade-off between privacy and convenience. You can join the Facebook community for free, but the site will use your personal information to generate a profit through ads and shady data-sharing practices. You are the product, and third-party organizations will pay through the nose to learn more about your likes and demographics.
Facebook lost a lot of social capital when The New York Times reported the tech giant had shared personal information with over 150 companies, including a political PAC called Cambridge Analytica. This was a huge breach of trust, but, then again, Americans didn’t have much faith in social media companies to begin with.
In a Pew Research survey, 58% of Americans said they trusted major tech companies to do what’s right some of the time, and only 3% said these companies do the right thing all the time.
The Cluster team wants to earn back the trust of the American people and let them know they have an ally in the struggle for greater privacy online.
“Our business model and our pledge is to never allow outside advertisers nor sell user data to any third party,” Steve said. “This is really the highest standard in the industry. I wish more companies would follow our lead.”
Cluster was part of the privacy wave long before #DeleteFacebook started trending, and the team is gratified to see more people becoming aware of the problems posed by exploitative data-sharing practices on social media.
Steve said he expects state and federal governments will recognize the need for regulation in the online world and implement stricter privacy laws. In the meantime, his team continues to offer Cluster as a trustworthy alternative for privacy-conscious users. On this app, you don’t have to share your life with the world to keep in touch with the select people who matter to you.
“Sharing with us is woven into everyday events,” Steve said. “We hear about every life event. Births, weddings, holidays, birthdays, and even funerals. It’s an honored privilege to provide such a service to families sharing these memories.”
Cluster has been a game changer for people who value their private lives. The app has allowed them to control who can see their personal photos and videos, and its popularity has taken off in the last few years.
Cluster’s invite-only groups can be as small as two people or as large as 200 people, but most groups hover around 20 to 30 close friends and family members. These forums provide a safe space where couples can share private jokes and friend groups can post silly videos without worrying about the prying eyes of strangers or big data collectors.
Instead of publishing your personal albums for everyone to see, you can curate an audience on Cluster and keep those special moments between you and your loved ones.
Cluster’s staunch commitment to user privacy has been a refreshing change of pace for the social media scene, and the company’s high-integrity policies have earned it a loyal following. As Cluster’s leadership team says, “If your business model includes tricking people, you’re doing it wrong.”