Sarahah: This app lets you send, receive anonymous messages, but be very careful
Do you take criticisms and ‘honest feedback’ positively? If not, Sarahah messaging app is not meant for you.
Instant messaging apps are dime a dozen. Now we have one more, called Sarahah, taking the internet by storm lately: It is currently the fourth top trending application in the Apple app store. On Google Play Store, the messaging application has now entered the "5,000,000-10,000,000" installs range. It even topped the list of free apps on Apple's app store recently.
Sarahah literally means honesty in Arabic. With Arabic script in the app title, it allows you to send anonymous messages. The trouble is, there is no way the receiver can reply. According to Sarahah's website, the purpose of this messaging application is to "get honest feedback from your coworkers and friends."
The website adds that the app will help "enhance your areas of strength, strengthen Areas for Improvement at your workplace" and with friends, it will help "improve your friendship by discovering your strengths and areas for improvement."
How Sarahah works
A light-weight application, we tried out its iOS version on Thursday. After downloading, you need to set up your profile with a custom url, for an example kulbhushan1987.sarahah.com (be kind, please). Once the set up is complete, you are given four options: Messages (a dashboard for all the sent, received and favourited messages), Search, Explore (the app says it's a new feature in the works), and Profile.
Clicking on the settings icon on the top right corner, you can further control elements such as email notifications and push notifications among others. For privacy, you can disable/enable "appear in search" and "receive messages from non-registered users." The application currently supports English and Arabic languages. The app is available for free on iOS and Google Play Store.
Sarahah: A risky venture?
Even if we trust the developers' vision -- people sending you honest messages and perhaps constructive criticism, it's still very risky and could be a weapon for cyber bullies. It is worth noting that Google, Facebook and Twitter have worked hard over the years to have people provide their true identities. Though these platforms still grapple with the menace of trolling, hate messages and even life threats. Signing up with Sarahah could mean you are deliberately exposing yourself to these threats online. However, users' have a mixed opinion on this issue.
Here are some users' comments on Google's Play Store:
"Great concept and fun. (Unless you're one using it to bully others, then, not cool). My 2 biggest complaints are that you can't search people using the 'search' function (no one I know pops up even when I search by the username) and that you can't message the person back. Fix this and this app would be great," says Cara Wilson.
"For all you people complaining that this promotes bullying is totally wrong. It is completely the user's fault for putting themselves online for anyone to say anything anonymously about them. It's simple, if you dont want to get bullied, just don't use the app. Don't fish for comments and complain," says Firaga.
We're not really sure if this user comment is true, but if it is, it's quite devastating.
"My friend attempted suicide because of what people were saying to her over this. This app is worse then ask.fm. This needs to be taken off the app store immediately it's not safe all it is,is a way for kids to harass others with no penalties. Whoever came up with this app was really dumb for creating it. I hope there can be consequences for the creator for allowing people to harass others to the point of someone wanting to kill themselves. Good job creator," Jordan Emerson commented.
Sarahah: The new Secret app?
Back in 2014, a messaging app called Secret had gone viral in a similar fashion. The app allowed users to send anonymous messages on a social platform. Once valued at $100 million, the app was pulled down almost one year later by the developers after several legal tussles and allegations that it encouraged bullying.
"This has been the hardest decision of my life and one that saddens me deeply. Unfortunately, Secret does not represent the vision I had when starting the company, so I believe it's the right decision for myself, our investors and our team," Secret's founder David Byttow had said in a blog post while announcing the shutdown of the app.