Anonymous Apps - From Fun to Toxic

When it comes to social media pretty much everyone has an account. Our lives and our friend’s lives are all connected no matter how far we move thanks to the digital age. While this is mostly harmless fun and you have quite a bit of control over your privacy settings there are some apps that invited people into your life you may not want. What’s worse is most of these apps are disguised as fun little platforms that many people end up abusing due to the use of a hidden identity. So, what are some of these apps and how do they open up the avenue for such hurtful content?

The Good Side

First, we are going to talk about the some of the benefits that come along with these apps to compare them to the negative issues they face. Many of these apps were made with good ideas behind them like venting your frustrations. It only turned bad when people learned that they could hide their identities when posting.

Some of the benefits to have certain apps is being able to anonymously get things off your chest. This means that you have a safe area to express your thoughts or feeling about subjects you normally wouldn’t be comfortable talking about. This can be a great tool for some people like teenagers who are going through a tough time or a transition in life they may not want to tell their parents about. It’s been proven that it’s easier to talk to a stranger about your problems than someone you know and some apps give a great platform to do this on.

Beyond that, these apps can be used as a mood booster. Like getting likes on a photo a kind comment can really make someone feel more confident about themselves. By giving users a mask of anonymity they may be willing to say more things about someone than they would if you knew their name. This can lead to a lot of compliments being posted on your page that talk positively about your looks or your personality. It can even be used as a way for someone to get their kind thoughts of you off their chest without them feeling like they might creep you out.

Why These Apps Turn Unhealthy

There are several different social issues that tend to rise up when dealing with apps where users can hide their identities. One of the most common problems you may run into is cyber bullying. This occurs when someone finds your account and starts to leave nasty comments towards you or your loved ones. In more open apps where others can view what people say about you, they may even post personal or sensitive information. This is greatly concerning since there is no way to block or determine what users are making the threats or accusations toward you.

Another huge issue you are going to find with these apps is sexual harassment. It has been seen over and over again with these types of platforms that inappropriate behavior will service. This can be anything from lewd comments to someone straight out telling you how they plan to take advantage of you. This type of behavior is unsettling and can leave many young women as well as men feeling uncomfortable as they go through their day. In extreme cases, some people have even been told how the outfits they wore turned the anonymous user on creating a very unsafe environment.

One of the worst possibilities can come in the form of blackmail. A user can go to an anonymous site and threaten to leak information so all other users can see. They may even make demands or beat around the push towards personal topics that you would not feel comfortable having displayed. Without you being able to discern their identity not only would you be backed into a corner, but you would start to lose trust in people you are close with which could damage some of your healthy real life relationships.

Lastly, we have the drama that can easily form from these apps. When you go to a place like Whisper you can post anonymous messages that everyone within your area can see. Sadly, this can quickly turn from cute love letters and shopping tips to drama. People have been shown many times to post personal information regarding others to the app while including their name. This creates a very hectic environment that can be seen by any users who come within the radius of the post. This app is looked down upon by many employers because of the possible disruptions it can cause in an office environment.

Sarahah Is Bad News

When it comes to these apps pretty much anyone can fall victim to the negative effects they hold. This is because with a lot of these apps like the newly popular Sarahah you post a link to your profile for users to leave feedback on. Even if you have a controlled Facebook environment this can lead to the wrong people getting ahold of the link if someone decides to copy it and give it to people outside of your network. There is no guaranteed way to keep it just between you and the people you want to share the link with unless you send it in a direct message which would defeat the point of the app being for feedback.

For this article, I even used the app for the first time. Even though my feedback turned out to be all positive I have no clue who could have written most of it. This is even with having a very small number of friends on the Facebook I shared it with. On top of that, I’m pretty sure someone outside of my Facebook commented on it which is concerning since my privacy settings are always set to friends only. While the comment isn’t negative it goes to show you that anyone can get ahold of these links to post pretty much whatever they want.

Also, concerning is the fact that I can leave myself feedback. The fact that I can leave comments to myself and they still appear anonymously is a little alarming. This means the app could easily be abused to take advantage of people by making false claims. While I’m sure this won’t be too huge of a problem the fact that it can be done means you should take things you see people screenshot from it lightly. Any application where falsifying information is a possibility is a major red flag in my book.

Parents Beware

One of the biggest groups to be affected by things like this is kids who are still of school or college age. If you are a parent I would highly suggest keeping tabs on your kid’s social media accounts to steer them away from apps like these. By letting minors use apps like these it’s almost like giving them the perfect recipe for disaster. This has already caused issues of bullying in some peer groups and should not be taken likely.

Teenagers especially may be drawn to the idea of receiving anonymous feedback. A lot of times teens will download the app in hopes of getting a message from their crush or having all their friends tell them how cool they are. Teenagers go through a lot of emotions and to them, these apps may seem like a great way for them to feel validated or hear something they want. Sadly, as stated in the issues above this can turn bad rather fast as their information makes its way around social media.

If you have a teen who is using this app I would greatly suggest advising them to delete it. In any case of healthy relationships, you should be able to get truthful feedback from your friends and peers. Talk with your kids about healthy ways to discuss and take criticism in their lives in order to create more honest relationships for them. By teaching our youth about the positive feedback we can get around them feeling the need to use the internet to feel validated.

How To Faze Out These Apps

The best way to get rid of the need for apps like these is to focus on teaching our youth honesty and openness. If we could find more constructive ways to give and take criticism from one another then this would eliminate the need for validation from these sources. I also think if we had a better outlook on the dating world and honesty to one’s feelings was always shown in a more positive light it would play a huge role as well.

I feel as though no one who uses things like this does so without a reason. As humans, we crave social contact and when we are not satisfied we tend to seek out alternatives. This is what has helped bring about the social media craze and what empowers Sarahah and Whisper to keep their popularity. When it comes down to it a simple change in your surroundings could help you feel like you don’t need things like apps in your life to lift you up. Don’t be afraid to change things up if you ever feel like you need an outlet.

Jessica has been working with the gaming industry for about two years now. She enjoys playing quirky Japanese games and learning about the newest trivia in the industry. When not working with games you may find her chilling with her naked cat Prince Noko... he's pretty cool we guess.