In an age where online trolling is a menace, a new app – Sarahah – which experts claim “promotes cyber bullying”, is kicking up a storm with its rising popularity. Though still relatively unknown in India, the app has spread like wildfire across rest of the world. Official figures reveal that it’s getting far greater traction than other known apps like Snapchat or Facebook. Sarahah anonymous messaging app is currently one of the most popular apps on App Store. Created by a Saudi developer, Sarahah mobile app helps you discover your friends and co-workers and leave a feedback. You can also share your own profile link to invite “honest” feedback from others. While this app has garnered a huge following in a short span of time, it’s also facing flak due to cyber bullying possibilities.
Sarahah was launched as recently as February 2017 as a website. But, within just 30 days it brought in 2.5 million users in Egypt, 1.7 million in Tunisia and 1.2 million in Saudi Arabia. However, as it turns out, this was just the beginning. It was then turned into an app and arrived on Google’s Playstore and Apple’s App Store in June. Then, within a matter of weeks, it climbed to the top of the download charts.
But what is Sarahah?
Essentially, an anonymous messaging service, Sarahah’s creator say that it helps people “discover their strengths and areas for improvement by receiving honest feedback from colleagues and friends in a private manner”. In Arabic language, Sarahah means honesty. Just like its name suggests, Sarahah is designed to get “honest feedback from your friends and co-workers.” Created by the Saudi developer, ZainAlabdin Tawfiq, you can use Sarahah to send and receive anonymous comments. The official description of Sarahah mobile applications calls it useful for being honest with your friends. If we take a look at the numbers, Sarahah has 5,000,000 – 10,000,000 installations, according to Google Play Store. On Apple’s App Store, it’s trending at #1 at the time of writing this article.
How does it work?
Upon installing the application and registering for the service, users are given a link, which depending on the user’s privacy choice, is shared with friends or made public to the world. Anyone with the link then can send users messages, but the recipient has no way of knowing who they are from. Though the idea of anonymous messages has been explored by other social media portals in the past, in the case of Sarahah, what sets it apart is the fact that there is no way the user can reply to the message. To invite feedback from your co-workers and friends, Sarahah provides an option to share the link to your Sarahah link and user name on Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, Telegram, and Snapchat.
- To start with it, you need an e-mail id, with which you can register yourself to use it. Then you can share your profile through social media or through messaging apps and keep it open for others to visit. The visitors are allowed to leave a message if they want, and remain anonymous.
- If you want, you can keep your sarahah profile private. Alternatively, anyone can comment, even if they are not sarahah users.
- Even though being anonymous is the key, it also allows people to show their identity.
- You can flag and save your most liked comment.
What about negative aspects of Sarahah?
Soon after its explosive popularity, people have expressed their concerns regarding the possibility of using Sarahah as a cyber bullying tool. Platforms like Facebook and Twitter aren’t new to trolls and bullies, and adding an extra layer of complete anonymity can take one steps further. Cyber bullying is hardly a new phenomenon, and has existed in different forms across multiple social media portals such as Twitter, Facebook, etc for years now. However, with Sararah ensuring complete anonymity and thus ridding users of any responsibility whatsoever for their actions, the platform has become a sought after tool for cyber-bullying.
As expected, most of the instances of cyber-bullying through the app appear to be cases of teenage users throwing caution to the wind and mishandling the unbridled freedom that the app provides. However, there is more at play here than just a few adolescents not being able to comprehend the consequence of their actions. Sarahah, with its anonymity factor, is becoming the weapon of choice for trolls. As such, a serious discussion needs to take place over the powers of such apps.
Sararah users should be made aware that nothing in this day and age is completely anonymous. In the case of a criminal investigation, even companies promising anonymity are bound by law to reveal information with the authorities.If Sarahah has to stay online, it should take the responsibility for making its users understand the limits of their promised anonymity.
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