Keeping Secrets in Social Media - Anonymity Week


By William James Gerlich

Photo by Maria Elena.

With more mothers and employers logging into traditional social media, a tidal wave of disenchantment has drawn younger users away from presenting their most polished selves on social media. Instead, they’re driven to join a place where they can be their true selves, completely anonymous.

Secret, a new app that allows users to post short messages and photos without attribution, has joined the ranks of anti-Facebook apps, which have popped up in response to the growing demand to share less about your refined personal life, in exchange for the nitty-gritty–or at least less mundane.

Some users think the content is stale, however.

Though the app is still new to the marketplace and users are taking time to become comfortable with the platform, Secret’s secrets are about as juicy as a fifth-grade girl’s diary. Posts range from semi-motivational (“You can’t please everyone in life, so start with yourself, then progress”) and sappy (“To be honest, I let her have more of the bed because I want her to be as comfortable as possible”) to silly (“I love wearing cloths [sic] with snap buttons. They make me feel like the Incredible Hulk every time I take them off”).

Last month at a South by Southwest interactive event, Secret CEO David Byttow said only 10-20 percent of Secret users are creating content. It will be a matter of time before those percentages increase, and for the potential for gossip to grow.

One user of the app, Jared Bond, tells BTR he does not post things on Facebook or Twitter because he wants to protect his privacy and Secret is an effective way to post thoughts in a judgment-free zone.

“I don’t post on social media because some of my family is on it who don’t understand how to properly use it,” Bond says. “It’s like many of them have no filter. They like anything, post everything, and share things they probably shouldn’t. I think everyone could benefit from being anonymous on the internet again, just like message boards back in the day.”

Since downloading the app, Bond has stopped using it, citing its unexciting newsfeed. One possible cause of this is that he didn’t upload his contact list, which is an option he found a bit discomforting. He explains he is saving the app on his phone however, with hopes that it will soon improve.

When logging in, new users have to sign up by providing an email address and phone number, which the app then uses to pull your contact list. While this may raise a red flag to the question of anonymity, the app simply adds those contacts into the main feed, and messages appear only as from a “friend” or “friend of friend,” while popular posts from strangers identified by city or state fill the remaining feed.

Currently the app is only available on iOS in the US and Canada, and is not highly ranked in the iTunes app store. Information regarding Secret’s download figures is, not surprisingly, kept secret, but so far the company raised a whopping $10 million from various Silicon Valley investors.

With privacy rights constantly in the news and the wave of anti-Facebook apps on the rise, there is a strong possibility apps like Secret may continue to gain momentum.