We have a new app-sensation in town that’s been spreading like wildfire. Meet Sarahah, an app that has been downloaded millions of times on Google Play and Apple’s App Store since its launch in June.
The app allows users to search for others who they may know and then send them anonymous messages. Once a user registers for an account, he/she can share his/her profile link with friends (or post it publicly), and anyone with this link can share messages to their profile. Interestingly, there is no way to reply to messages, and you can’t find out who sent them unless the sender includes their name.
So, what is it that’s making Sarahah- derived from the Arabic word for “honesty”- so popular amongst teens who already have hundreds of messaging options like Snapchat, Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp?
The biggest USP of Sarahah (that’s surely not easy on the tongue) is its anonymity factor. The app pitches itself as a social network that lets users receive anonymous messages. It was initially introduced as a website by Saudi Arabian developer Zain al-Abidin Tawfiq for employees to offer feedback — or “Leave a constructive message” to their bosses and co-workers under the protection of anonymity.
Much of Sarahah’s resounding success thus far can be attributed to its link with Snapchat. Several users take the app’s recommendation of including a link of their Sarahah profile on their Snapchat username. The often short, digestible anonymous comments also make for easy-to-share content on other social media apps.
Candour or cyber bullying?
The app’s iTunes description says the point of the app is to help people discover, “strengths and areas for improvement by receiving honest feedback from employees and friends in a private manner.” But then, there is a thin line dividing honesty from bullying that has apparently become the biggest concern around Sarahah and many users already report that the app has become a breeding ground for cyber bullying and hate speech.
Sarahah- the next big social network or just a bubble?
Well, Sarahah’s explosive growth and success, no doubt raise hopes for another competitor in the social networking space, however, the history of anonymous messaging apps suggests otherwise. Anonymous messaging platforms like Yik Yak, Whisper, and Secret have consistently struggled with online abuse and hate speech, leading to declining use and, for Yik Yak and Secret, ignominious closure.