Why You Might Want to Be Wary of a Popular New Anonymous Messaging App

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Say hello to what might become your newest obsession (or fear): an anonymous messaging app called Sarahah. The app, similar to Yik Yak, Whisper, or ask.fm, lets people create an account and have others leave them messages. It also currently holds the number one spot on the US App Store and is pretty popular with both teenagers and adults.

Sarahah, created by Saudi Arabian developer Zain al-Abidin Tawfiq, was created in order to make it easier for employees to give feedback to their employers, or so Tawfiq told Mashable. However, it’s quickly turned into a forum where people leave all sorts of messages to each other, some nice and others incredibly problematic. The app’s popularity has grown thanks to one nifty feature on the product: a shareable link that anyone can access to drop a message without creating an account themselves. Many people are either including the link in Snapchats or posting a screenshot of their Sarahah to Instagram.

So how does Sarahah work? You create a profile and either let people search for you in the app or send a link around to your friends. You’re the only one who can see the messages sent to you, though if you want to share it with friends it’s easy to take a screenshot and share it online. You also can’t respond to messages (just yet, anyway), and if you’re worried about who might find you on the app, you can easily turn off the search settings for yourself.

The app is undoubtedly ripe for cyberbullying thanks to its anonymous nature. It also wouldn’t be the first app hoping for “honesty” but landing closer to harassment, doxxing, and revealing personal details about someone or yourself. Back in 2016, students at Vassar College used Yik Yak (now defunct) to out people who allegedly sexually assaulted them. In a different incident on the same campus, students used Yik Yak to post anti-Semitic messages. At the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Yik Yak was used to post racist notes.

If you’re still curious, you can download the free app for both iOS and Android. Just be mindful (and careful) about who you send your link to.


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