Over 10 million downloads on Google's Play Store in less than a month and still counting… Sarahah app's craze, particularly among teens, has taken everyone by surprise. The app seems to have suddenly become everyone’s favourite, especially in India.
For those who still do not know what we are talking about, it is an app that, according to the developers, "helps people self-develop by receiving constructive anonymous feedback.” Sarahah, which means 'honesty' in Arabic, was originally built to receive constructive feedbacks from the employees within the organization. But, with its growing popularity, the developers decided to launch it as an app for everyone and are still working on upgrading it.
Well, this is not the first time an app has gone viral. In the past, we have seen apps like Dubsmash and Prisma gaining popularity among users and social media acting as a contributor in spreading the word. It’s a set mechanism where every app developer promises to provide new experience to the users and that is how they increase their reach. Sarahah, being newcomer has already gained the momentum and has become a big hit.
The app vows to provide complete secrecy on the identity of the sender. Anyone registered with this app can send messages to others without revealing their identity to them. And this is what excites many users. However, it also poses security concerns to others. Questions are now being raised on the credibility of the app. Is this app really helping in building constructive relations with others? Are the details of the accounts really secure?
Below are some of the factors that are needed to be focused on. Some of which have already started worrying the users.
Not all the feedbacks are "constructive"
While the company claims that the app is for sending out constructive feedback, but it is being used for exactly adverse purposes. Many users are receiving offensive or insulting messages, which is becoming intolerable to some. It's not all about hurling abuses in the messages, in fact a lot of users are receiving pleasing or exciting messages too. While most of the messages to female users are praises, some have also reported of getting harassing remarks through secret messages.
Senders are also commenting on the looks and personality of the users, which is disturbing; leading the users to get into self evaluation. This is leading a lot of users to deactivate their accounts and leave the app forever.
Psychologically unhealthy for young netizens
Sender's secrecy is the prime reason why this app is becoming a hit in India. No doubt internet accessibility and social media are a blessing to a blooming country like India, but nothing in this world comes with "everything good" about it. Most of us have seen or read about the negative impacts of internet, like cyberbullying and cyber stalking.
Most adults are sensible enough to stay away of such threats but not the young minds. Bullying in any form stands out to be harmful to anyone, especially children. At the tender age where their minds are still developing, negativity from such apps can have adverse psychological impact on them. Only few of these internet savvy youth is mature enough sense and handle the impact. Receiving messages from the unknown senders increases the risk of metal-hammering in children, and we always suggest parents to keep a check on what their kid is doing on internet.
Spreading hatred and inciting social crime is easy
Messages from anonymous users can lead to serious threats on security. It won't be surprising to see antisocial or anti-national elements using it to spread enmity by brainwashing young minds, persuading them against something unethical. We have seen the Blue Whale challenge that is another serious example of the dark side of social media. The government on seeing the negative impact of this game has asked the authorities to keep a check on it and take down anything which seems to promote this game. This app may also lead to something similar, and we must not unsee the ugly side of it.
Anonymity promised! Really?
Though the developers claim that there is no possibility of the identities getting exposed, but what if it happens? If hackers can pull off huge cyber crimes like WannaCry, then attaining information of several around the world is not a problem for them. So, the risk of exposing user identities still sustains. And, if this happens, the idea of creating constructive feedback may transform completely to something extremely horrid in no time.
This piece is not to threaten you against using this app. We will not say that the app is not worth existence, but we have to be wise about how we use it constructively. Technology, if used positively can result in creation of a bright new world but when misused can lead to a path of destruction.
In the end, we would like the makers of this app to consider these factors and alter their app into something that does what it is meant to do.