Secret Messaging App Both Adored and Feared

Sarahah lets users send messages anonymously
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 12, 2017 1:57 PM CDT
Secret Messaging App Both Adored and Feared
Some call it a platform for bullying.   (Getty Images / martin-dm)

Imagine being able to hear exactly what family, friends, and coworkers think of you without knowing who is behind each comment. It's enticing to the millions of people who've downloaded the massively popular new app Sararah since it was released in June. Adweek reports that it's currently the top free iPhone app on iTunes. Created by a developer in Saudi Arabia, Sararah, which means "honesty" or "candor" in Arabic, offers just that—a platform for totally anonymous direct text messages, reports the Telegraph. What started as a tool for constructive workplace feedback has gone mainstream, and fast, with some raving about the feedback and others calling it "evil" and an "excuse to bully people."

Here's how it works: Users register online or download the app to a phone, share their link via social media, and wait. Messages can come from anyone (including people who haven't signed up for Sarahah themselves, unless you change the setting allowing it), are anonymous, and cannot be replied to—although USA Today reports that some users work around this by taking a screenshot and broadcasting a reply on platforms like Twitter and Snapchat. A cyber safety expert tells ABC Australia that any service like this "will lend itself to anonymous bullying," while reporting abuse is difficult since people don't have to register to send a message. "When it comes to no face, we can see how the internet can be," a stand-up comedian tells KMTV. "So it's terrifying." The counter argument? Don't sign up for it in the first place. (Some call cell phones a "lethal weapon" when in the hands of certain kids.)

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