A gateway to cyber bullying or a much-needed morale booster?
If you’ve been keeping up with your news feed lately, chances are that you might have come across a white envelope in a turquoise background.
If not, then you might be missing out on the latest internet trend.
Remember ask.fm, secret or even whisper? Those anonymous Q & A apps that were trending for some time last year? Well there’s a new app with the same concept that’s been spreading across the internet like a wild fire.
Arabic for ‘honesty’, Sarahah was first designed for working staff as a tool used for feedback to recognize their strengths and weaknesses. According to the iTunes description, Sarahah “helps you in discovering your strengths and areas for improvement by receiving honest feedback from your employees and your friends in a private manner."
But that initial mission was turned into a platform used by teenagers with questions like “Are you single?” becoming more common than “You should make it in time to work”; the app is now used by people to flatter or insult others anonymously. The website-turned-popular app, created by Saudi developer, Zain al-Abidin Tawfiq, has gone massively viral, allowing for people using the app to partake in an online popularity contest as they compete over the number of compliments that they receive.
To put it simply, Sarahah has become a digitalized version of school public toilet walls. Remember when people would write the names of their crushes and enemies without getting recognized? It's basically tht.
Social media platforms have been flooded with people posting screenshots of messages that they receive on Sarahah. Since its release in July, the anonymous messaging app, that currently sits at no. 1 on the App Store, topping the likes of YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook, already has 15 million users and has been downloaded over 4 million times on iOS and at least 5 million times on Android devices. The Saudi originated app has gained a huge popularity in the MENA region and has now even started to spread towards the US and Europe.
With users able to make any comments to others in private, the app has unfrotunately allowed for cyber bullying to prosper. The anonymity of the app means that people are able to criticize and troll others without being recognized. And as anyone who has ever been Twitter before knows: trolls suck.
With more than 10,000 five-star reviews and almost as many one-star reviews. Many of the negative comments cite disturbing instances of online abuse and the potential for cyberbullying.
Like a two-sided coin, Sarahah seems to be pretty hit and miss in whether you get a positive or negative experience. You’ll either have a load of fun or you could end up becoming a victim of cyber bullying.
In spite of all its negative press, the increasing popularity of the app proves its success and people’s willingness to expose themselves at the risk of receiving negative comments in order to know people’s thoughts on them.
Could this app make it world-wide, threatening social media giants and becoming a new competitor to the likes of Facebook and Twitter? Or will the consequences associated with it end up killing its potential?
Only time will tell, but, for now, Zain al-Abidin Tawfiq is one happy man.