Top 10 things about Sarahah, the anonymous messaging app
"Are you ready for honesty? Get constructive criticism from friends and colleagues, in total anonymity." This is the running theme of the new honesty secret messaging app Sarahah that has garnered immense popularity and triggered a massive debate about online bullying alongside. Sarahah stands for “honesty” in Arabic and permits users to send and receive messages in complete anonymity from people in the social network. Here's all you need to know about this controversial messaging app.1. From Egypt To the World
This app was created by Saudi programmer Zain al-Abindin Tawfiq who mainly wanted to create a platform for people to share honest opinions about each other. This site has gathered 270 million views and 20 million users in a span of a few weeks. Alexa says this site is one of the top messaging app sites in Egypt where it originated. This app has 2.5 million users rom Egypt alone, as per stats shared by news channel Al Jazeera. The app is gaining popularity in Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Kuwait too. Now, the app is trending in Indian shores too, apart from drawing coverage from the BBC, Financial Times and many respected international media channels and publications. 2. Honesty is the Best policy?
The popularity of this site has spilled over to less anonymity granting networks. People share screenshots of messages received on Sarahah. Some of these are simply outrageous such as discussing an affair with married individuals, while others are scathing remarks on people or even confessions of attraction or sexual orientation. The developer Tawfiq aimed for a business market when he first launched the website, because company employees often lack the courage or initiative to give constructive (read negative) feedback to bosses. The developer did not expect this app to thrive on the social scene.
But who draws the line between constructive anonymous feedback and slanderous or defamatory comments that disturb a user's peace of mind? Is honesty really the best policy, especially when claims of anonymity are blowing sky high with speech bubbles from this site making their way to social media.3. Positive Feedback or Risky Messages?
This app was designed for employees to submit anonymous feedback to employees but has now emerged as a new tool for people to express secret emotions and not necessarily positive feedback. Risks inbuilt in this online platform are too clear to be ignored.
Is Sarahah headed to a platform for destroying young impressionable minds by playing the self esteem game on a public platform? Cyberbullying and trolling have hit an all time high. When bullying moves online under the garb of anonymity, it is difficult to track. There is no escape for it at home or office. 4. Little Knowledge is Dangerous
For users who have taken the plunge into this messaging app, inviting observations, comments or both, there has been active attempt to identify the source of the messages by using social media. The sense of mystery around the app is not necessarily positive, especially when fragile self esteem is centred around it. 5. Brightening People's Days With Sunny Messages
However, a majority of the users have a sunny view of the system, with many talking of how compliments have brightened their day. Kind words and overwhelmingly positive comments have also been used by supporters of this app site to talk of how beneficial it is. Gratification that comes from positive feedback is not diminished by anonymity with the goal of making people laugh or enjoy a comment being central to this messaging app for many. 6. How It Works
The public use and private policies state that Sarahah users should commit to ethics and value and refrain from insult or abuse of the site. The users are given a choice of tweaking privacy settings and selecting if they want their name to appear in search results and if non-authorised people without accounts can comment on them. After receiving feedback, there are plenty of options for the user form blocking ore reporting the message to adding it to their list of favourites or even sharing it to social media sites. 7. It’s not New
Sarahah is not the first anonymity guaranteeing messaging app online. Yikyak has the distinction of being one of the market leaders in the field. But this hyperlocal anonymous messaging app once valued at US$400 million recently closed down on account of failure to make the transition to group messaging. Secret, another such app shut down following legal action on account of cyberbullying. Another such app which was Ask.fm (acquired by Ask.com) reached the height of its popularity in 2012, but gradually faced issues on account of online abuse. So the question remains if Sarahah can win where others have tasted failure. 8. Not For the faint-hearted
This app is not for sensitive individuals. The Sarahah iOS app store page which has a 2.8 rating for the most recent version is filled with such warnings. If you get good messages, expect to enjoy the app. But the reverse is also possible and this can create a confidence conflict. 9. No Revenue Model
Sarahah is a free consumer linked app without any ads. It lacks a revenue model although Microsoft has offered this app free cloud hosting credits. End game strategies apart, as the app gains in numbers, it also raises important questions.10. Booming Popularity Amidst Important Questions
This app has caught on fast. In the iOS App store in over 30 nations in July, this app released in February was right on top. This app is even gaining credence among Snapchat users. With 300 million users already, this viral messaging app is in English and Arabic for Android and iOS users. Like apps before it such as Secret and Whisper, Sarahah offers no guarantees when it comes to curbing cyber bullying, especially under the garb of anonymity. In this day and age of Blue Whale Challenge and other virtual murder platforms, the big question is whether Sarahah has the potential to harm and hurt the vulnerable by being a double edged sword when it comes to “honest” feedback.