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By the time this article is published, your Facebook timeline would probably be flooded with cryptic text messages, on a green and white background, shared by your friends. In case you are clueless about the latest online fad, Sarahah, is an online (web and app) platform where you can message someone, who has set up and shared a profile, anonymously. When the team decided to check it out, and write our opinion piece on it, we set up our profiles. Full disclosure, we fully enjoyed the sensation while at it, and regularly checked for updates. But, let’s pause and think a bit, is Sarahah really the safe haven for opinions, is it worth your time and energy?
Dissecting the Appeal
So, at first glance, the app is simplistic. It has minimal UI, with little time spent on fonts, or features. It is clear that the architects were depending solely on the idea of the product to sell itself. They were not wrong. The app has hit one of the softest spot of human psyche – insecurity. We are, as a race, keen to get validated. No matter how confident we appear, in the end, we are looking for people to like us. There is also the guilty pleasure of ‘allowing the veil to drop’, and let the true opinions about you come to light. Both are powerful draws to the platform. In addition, and expectedly, it is serving as a ‘dark’ Whatsapp, a confession stand, and yet another display opportunity of our narcissism.
With the promise of complete anonymity, the Sarahah app presents itself like a trustworthy friend you can depend upon not to reveal your secrets, while transmitting all your truth to the universe. Well, that’s where the problem starts. Is it really that trustworthy?
The Sarahah app is asking for all sorts of device related access like your contacts, gallery, calls etc. While this is true for most apps, the Sarahah app’s authenticity is yet unknown. The hosting server and domain owner details are secret, and no one really knows what the app is going to do with your data.
One can guess, of course. Imagine a database that knows your strongest connections (with a classification based on love and hate), knows the opinions that you truly value, knows some shifty secrets shared between your closest comrades. Well, Facebook and Google might have this on you, but they have built it over a large period of time. And, begrudgingly, we have learnt to trust them over a period of time. This app has recreated a shallower version of this data over a week’s time! Data is gold in today’s economy. Imagine the kind of money the leading e-stores would spend to be able to target market to you at this level. It can be worse, but, let’s not get too paranoid.
While we, thankfully, did not receive any such threat yet, but it remains a possibility. The key point to be noted is its anonymity. If you receive a threat, you have no way to trace the offender, the cyber crime cells cannot assist you, and your only bet is reporting the message to the app, who is an unknown body. Anyone else spooked here?
Feedback: Should it really be anonymous?
This is a question that has been doing the rounds in the HR circles of the world already. Should feedback be anonymous? If we are looking for constructive criticism, and are mature enough to receive and develop, why do we need the veils of anonymity? Do we really need to validate our actions with some unknown person, whose agenda might or might not be beneficial?
It might also create misunderstanding between friends. Say, you are going through a rough patch with a friend of yours, and you receive a negative comment anonymously. Are you not going to automatically assume that it is the same friend who provided the feedback, while in reality your friend might be completely oblivious to it? Imagine how much a third party can toy with the emotions of two people, if they know just enough to impersonate one or the other.
Oh, the Spam!
Since its inception, Sarahah has successfully flooded our timelines, in every social media platform, with meaningless updates about random people. While most pages or apps can be hidden or unfollowed, these posts are simple image posts shared by your friends, and cannot be blocked, unless you block the person. Most of the statements are personal in nature, giving no insight on the person or the relationship that a third party might find interesting. So, imagine how annoying it is going to get when all the millenials in the world start sharing their ‘sweet or sour nothings’ on your social media page! We might finally have found a cure for Facebook. Shut it off!
Understand this, you have handed over a free, undeterred, personal, anonymous access to you, to the free market. You are bound to start receiving various marketing messages on this platform, soon. Since you do not know who the sender is, you cannot do anything about it. So unless you are extremely keen on receiving constant online ads, stay away from Sarahah.
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