The great dilemma of our age is how much information about our lives we should give away to big tech companies. On the one hand, campaigners point to data abuses and loss of privacy.

On the other hand, Facebook is ridiculously useful – particularly when it comes to keeping abreast of your friends’ lives and keeping them up to date with yours.

How can you avail yourself of this essential functionality without turning yourself into a privacy-relinquishing chump? Simple: you can use Yoke.

This ingenious app strips out all the useless junk that clogs most social networking services and leaves you with the one bit that matters: the bit that lets you connect with your friends.

This is how it works. You set up a Yoke profile using your email address or Facebook account, and from there you can add friends within the app from your Facebook and email contacts, as well as your phone book. You can also search for contacts by name in Yoke’s database.

Once you’ve added friends you can organize them into customized groups called Circles. So, for instance, you could go as broad as “Co-workers” or as specific as “Chess club members who also like Nicolas Cage movies”.

The basic idea is if a Yoke friend is nearby you’ll get a notification, ensuring that you never have to suffer one of those frustrating, “you were there? but I was there!” situations ever again.

However, you have a huge amount of control over how and when this works. You can set your level of visibility by adjusting your distance settings and toggling people and circles on and off to suit your preferences at any given moment.

So if you’re happy to bump into a fellow Cage Chess Club member on your trip into town but you’d rather not see a co-worker, all you need to do is tap a couple of on-screen buttons and you’re golden.

You can pick up Yoke for free right now on the App Store.