It’s 2017 and unfortunately we are living in a world in which it’s difficult to tell a lie from truth or the other way around. The same is true for the internet as well with the usual doses of fake news making their rounds. And rising from this pile of lies is the internet’s latest sensation — Sarahah, an anonymous platform for giving honest and constructive feedback.
If you are an avid Facebook or Twitter user, you must have seen the teal colored boxes that your buddies or followers have been passionately sharing. From the likes of ‘you are such a great co-worker’ to lame little jokes, the Sarahah app has taken the internet by storm and is gently trodding past the 10 million download mark on the Play Store.
So, what is Sarahah? And is it really safe to use an anonymous messaging platform? Let’s find out.
Sarahah, meaning ‘honest or openness’ in Arabic, was developed by Saudi programmer Zain al-Abidin Tawfiq. What began as an internal website for giving constructive and honest feedback for employees soon turned into a successful venture when the developer released it in a few Arab-speaking countries.
Roughly a couple of months later, the English version was rolled out in February this year, with the app launching in June and the rest, as they say, is history.
The USP of the app is the veil of anonymity that a sender can hide behind.
This leads to people speaking what they wouldn’t normally if it wasn’t anonymous. For instance, an ex-colleague of mine has been receiving great compliments mainly on her personal life from her entourage of admirers and well-wishers, in what can be seen as a great self-esteem booster.
Plus, there’s no way of telling who has sent the feedback and no way of replying directly. As a result, you’d have to guess around — a theme which I have been seeing in my now almost teal-colored Facebook feed.
This ‘guess-who’ game is fun as long as the messages are seen as compliments or funny.
On the other side, you have little chances of receiving scathing replies to your message, for Sarahah lacks a reply feature.
But mind you, it’s not all bright and sunny in the Sarahah land. Honesty is a double edged sword, and as expected, there have been many instances when the messages can’t be deemed as either funny or constructive. There’s a fine line between jokes and bullying, which in many cases, users seems to have trodden past without giving a second thought.
Then there’s the case of cyber bullying. One of the friends who had been actively using this app until a few days ago has given up on it, owing to the hateful messages. A couple of others have received a slew of offensive messages related to body shaming, life-choices and what not. The fact that these messages don’t have a face makes the situation grim and creepy.
For you never know, the person sitting next to your cubicle might be the face behind the mean messages.
If you go by the Play Store reviews alone, there are a whopping 11,000 one-star ratings against the 13,000 five-star ratings.
What Does the Future Hold?
Let’s not forget that this era forgets such sensational apps quickly. Take, for instance, the camera app Prisma, which took the photography world by storm in 2016 or, for that matter, Pokemon Go.
However, this is not the first time that the world has seen anonymous messaging platforms. If you recollect, a few years earlier we had Yik Yak, Secret, or ask.fm. There have instances of users being embroiled in legal battles for misusing these platforms while a few others have shut shop.
So, is the future shining for Sarahah? I doubt it. However, it would be an interesting show if it proves me wrong.