Another fabulous intern has joined Createful for two weeks! Olivia has got stuck into a lot during her first week. She also introduced us all to the Sarahah app. In her first Createful blog post, Olivia explores this successful, yet controversial platform.
Sarahah means ‘honesty’ in arabic. And boy, this app is honest. “How?” you ask. It allows anyone (with an account or not) to leave anonymous comments to account holders. It aims to improve communication. Although it seems to be working, I’m posing the question: is this communication meaningful, or just causing more harm than good?
Sarahah was originally intended for employees to give bosses anonymous feedback, without retribution, for better communication in corporate organisations. However, it only gained popularity after being opened up to allow friends and family to leave comments, inviting users to “allow friends to be honest with you”. Unlike other social media platforms, there are no repercussions of leaving hurtful messages. After all, everything is anonymous. This feature seems to be what’s making the app so popular – but also, problematic. Zain al-Abidin Tawfiq, creator of the app, wanted to stop social barriers such as age and position from giving honest feedback. Has he opened up a can of worms?
- Image by Scruggelgreen
Sarahah actually began as a website, and was only made into an app in June this year. According to App Annie, Sarahah has already been the iPhone’s No.1 app by downloads in 46 countries, including the U.S and U.K. Popularity of Sarahah skyrocketed when the external link feature was added to Snapchat, which happened to coincide with the release of the Sarahah app. This allowed people to swipe up their friends’ Snapchat story, and leave a Sarahah comment instantaneously, without even needing a Sarahah account. Sarahah can also be interconnected via hyperlinks to Instagram stories.
- Image from iTunes
Of course, we have seen anonymous apps take the internet by storm before. YikYak allowed people to create and view discussion threads within a 5-mile radius, and fast became a campus favourite. The app was soon banned on many school, college, and university campuses, and shut down for good in April this year. Ask.fm also grew quickly – a social networking site based on question and answer, with most questions asked anonymously. Ask.fm responded to cyber-bulling concerns, by creating a Safety Advisory Board and a Saftey Centre. The Safety Centre includes tools, tips and guidance for teens, teachers, parents and law enforcement, to combat bullying. If Sarahah continues to grow, it may be smart for them to consider putting a similar feature into action.
- Image from sarahah.com
If you create a Sarahah account, you are welcoming anonymous messages – the good, the bad and the ugly. For some, the app will be a 100% positive experience. For many, good will come with the bad. But for a some, Sarahah could be life-ruining. I for one would not create an account; my need for anonymous validation is low and it wouldn’t add anything to my life. It would probably make me glum if I received a single bad comment. Perhaps some people thrive off the drama and attention a negative comment could create – as they say, bad press is better than no press!
My prediction is that Sarahah will be a fleeting phase, much like the other anonymous apps. It will likely end in tears. Sarahah’s original idea, feedback for employers, could have been successful in its own right, with far less potential for abuse. What do you think about Sarahah? Could it be a good tool to drive self-improvement, or simply be detrimental to confidence? Do you know anyone who has experienced bullying due to an anonymous platform? Join in the conversation on Twitter.