If you’re tuned into the technosphere, chances are you’ve heard or seen something about a smartphone app called Sarahah. Available on both the iOS and Android platforms, this messaging app’s original purpose was to provide employees a way to send anonymous feedback to bosses. Its creators have now set their sights higher.
The name Sarahah is Arabic, and it roughly means frankness or honesty. Zain al-Abidin Tawfiq, an app developer in Saudi Arabia, built the original Sarahah as a website interface and marketed it to businesses. The app enabled employees to leave feedback and voice concerns to employers without revealing their identities.
Tawfiq saw the potential in releasing the app as a more general communications tool. Today, you can download Sarahah and link it to a Snapchat account. This creates a custom link just for you, which you can share with your friends or, if you’re tired of feeling good about yourself, with the internet at large. Then people who wish to leave you anonymous messages can do so using Snapchat by clicking on that custom link. The app’s popularity exploded shortly after it became available in February 2017, not surprisingly finding widespread adoption among teens.
The app’s goals, according to its website, are twofold: to “let your friends be honest with you” and “improve your friendship by discovering your strengths and areas for improvement.”
As we all know, anonymous communication is frequently accompanied by abuse on the internet. Some people are concerned that mean-spirited folks might abuse Sarahah to send hurtful or threatening messages without fear of being caught. A piece in New York Magazine includes a quote from a teenager named June, who summed up the experience succinctly: “The messages are usually either really nice or really mean.”