Sarahah: The Anonymous Feedback App

Spotted a friend in social media sharing screenshots of a teal speech bubbles that hold an anonymous message? Well, then it’s probably Sarahah – an anonymous feedback app that has gained momentum very quickly and is spreading like wild fire.

Sarahah is an app “helps you self-develop by receiving constructive anonymous feedback.” In simple words, it’s just an anonymous feedback form that has an open ended question. It was developed by 29 year old Saudi programmer Zain al-Abidin Tawfiq and was initially launched in Egypt. The App named after the Arabic word for “honesty,” was apparently designed for employees to submit anonymous feedback to employers.

In February 2017, Sarahah was opened up to the general public. People who sign up in Sarahah receive a link they can share on other social media sites – inviting anyone with access to their profile to send messages anonymously.

Sarahah is not the first anonymous messaging app in the market. Ask.fm in 2012 was initially an anonymous social media platform. Secret was another anonymous messaging app and had to shut down following legal battles and claims that it encouraged bullying. Sayat.me was also a similar website. YikYak, was an anonymous messaging app once valued at $400 million. All the platforms have been criticised by several media articles regarding cyberbullying and have been linked to suicides. There were a huge number of reported cases of anonymous offensive messaging and suicides apparently resulting from such bullying.

So, how is Sarahah unique ? The app has the ability to block offensive users based on their IP address, even if they are not registered on the site. It can also filter out certain offensive words automatically. Sarahah also doesn’t have in-app advertising and doesn’t seem to have a revenue model in place.

Sarahah was branded itself as a “honest” and “constructive criticism” app. The developers knew the potential effects of cyberbullying. Honestly speaking, the real world has nothing to do with honest and people don’t seem to know how to send constructive messages. People are taking advantage of the anonymous nature of the app and bully or troll others. Most people who engage in these activities are often motivated by anger, revenge or frustration. They do it for entertainment or because they are bored or have too much time on their hands. Some people even post for mere fun.

Cyberbullying has grown as a major problem in recent years, afflicting children and young adults. There have been studies that have shown that cyber-victimization and cyberbullying on social networks involving adolescents are strongly associated with psychiatric and psychosomatic disorders. One must understand that children’s coping mechanisms may not be as strong as adults and they suffer grievously – resulting in tragic outcomes like self-injurious behaviour and suicides.

Read more about it at Common Sense Reasoning for Detection, Prevention, and Mitigation of Cyberbullying

The app is a reflection of how disgusting our society is getting every day. One must also understand the security risk associated. What if the app was hacked and your names were leaked along with your messages ? The app is still in its development stages and would have already attracted the hacker’s eye.

You must also understand it’s not difficult to track who has posted if you are an expert in online tracking. If you are sharing the link on WhatsApp status or Facebook Stories, it’s easy to know who has seen the link and then match it with the timestamp of the messages. Trust me!! Don’t attempt this – you will be in for a shock. With privacy settings in social media, you can also control the visibility of your post.

One must be aware that these apps are designed for fun. Sarahah diligently is a good idea. But be aware of the positive and negatives of any app.

Want to give a constructive and honest feedback of Pandas Wisdom? Click here pandaswisdom.sarahah.com

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