Sarahah is an anonymous messaging app created by developer Zaid-Alabdin Tawfiq in 2016, making it one of the most successful apps in 2017. The app allows people to send text messages to other people and the person reading them. they can then respond anonymously. Sarahah is an Arabic word that means candor or honesty.
The app was involved in some polemic in the United States, which resulted in its withdrawal from the Apple platform, and caused changes in its configuration.
How does Sarahah work?
According to the creator, Sarahah is an application that helps the user discover his strengths and seek to improve his weaknesses through honest and truthful comments received by friends, acquaintances, employees of a company, etc., all privately. When sending messages anonymously, the idea is that the person will be more honest in criticizing without the message recipient knowing who they are.
In practice, the app works as follows: you create an account with email and username and get a custom URL that can be shared with anyone; Those who access it can send a message without being identified. The message can only be read by you. When you enter the social network, just search the person's name and then make the comment. It is not possible to search by email or social network, nor reply to the messages answered. The user, if desired, can block the person who has made an unwanted comment, so that they can only give new feedback to that user if they create another account.
The controversy surrounding Sarahah
The app had a series of problems in the United States after parents of children under 13 began complaining that their children were receiving violent, hateful and suicidal incitement messages. Apparently, the platform filter was not adequate enough to prevent cyberbullying.
Peties were created on change.org (and others) and one of them quickly got 470,000 supporters in his petition. In March 2018, the app was pulled from the App Store (iOS) and Google Play Store (Android). At the time, the app creator assured him that he was working to improve Sarahah's security.
In March of this year the app will be available again in the Google Play Store, bringing a number of improvements, besides presenting a new design and the possibility to login through Facebook:
- Greater privacy: Sarahah, once accused of stealing user data, no longer has access to his personal contacts. Internet users can only access a Sarahah page if a user chooses to share their link directly and make it publicly searchable;
- Message Limiter: There is an option to limit yourself to receiving feedback from logged in users or to use the account only to give feedback (without sending messages) without having to be available to receive it on Sarahah as well;
- Ability to report abuse: users can report accounts that misuse the platform with a single click to combat bullying cases;
- Option to disable targeted ads: App ads can be tailored to your interest, or you can disable this option in the app settings.
Despite the improvements, the issue of anonymity still causes a lot of controversy around Sarahah: The app's original proposal may even be useful for feedback; On the other hand, being anonymous is pointed out as a problem, and many critics say that the application only serves to encourage cyberbullying, even with the improvements presented. Another negative factor is the extreme simplicity of the application as a whole.
Anyway, the app can be downloaded for free to android users through the Google Play Store. In the Apple Store the app is still locked.