Behind the Mask: Anonymous Apps
Anonymous apps are growing increasingly popular. To prove this point, one need look no further than the extensive list of anonymous apps in existence. The following is a short list of anonymous apps to look out for.
Hire my Friend
Whisper 4.0 (see blog on this app)
This list is in no way comprehensive, which in and of itself is a scary thought. Now, it is important to remember that no app is necessarily inherently bad. There are a few with less than noble purposes, but most are not inherently bad. In fact, there are some distinct benefits of anonymous apps. Several of the above apps are hiring apps that allow people to brag on their friends anonymously for hiring purposes. Sarahah was created to allow employees to anonymously critique their job environment. One of the biggest touted benefits of anonymous apps is their allowance for honesty without fear. Another benefit allows people to speak freely about issues in their life and get advice without ever having to expose their identities. With the exception of certain apps designed for anonymous sexual contact or gossip, many anonymous apps were designed with the good of the populace in mind. And, as long as adults use these apps for their intended purpose, there is not necessarily a problem with anonymous apps.
However, where is advise extreme caution is with children and teens. Many anonymous apps are age restricted, although there is typically no method in place to verify the age of the user. There have been so many cases, indicated by a quick Google search, in which teens have posed as older adults or older adults have posed as teens or even children and scheduled a tragic meet-up. The problems and dangers with children and teens on anonymous apps are numerous. Here is a short list of potential issues:
Strangers can access the users
Honesty can be harmful
Trolling is a frequent issue
There is no accountability to exercise digital respect
Suggestions of violence occur frequently
Again, this is not a comprehensive list. That information would literally fill books. Really, when dealing with anonymous apps, there are a few general rules.
1. Do NOT let children and teens on anonymous apps. Otherwise noble apps have been corrupted by teenagers who just want to troll and gossip. They are also too young to understand the next two rules.
2. Anonymous apps are not really anonymous. The username can be traced back to the computer it was sent from using the IP address. In addition, since cyberbullying is illegal according to David’s Law, there is actually motivation to trace those comments back to the original sender. These messages and videos and pictures that teens and others send, falsely believing in their own anonymous invincibility, could potentially ruin both their own lives and others’ lives.
3. Anonymity provides a mask. People say things behind a mask that they would never say to someone’s face. The level of hostility, hatred and violence that people spew on anonymous apps is dangerous. Many adults struggle to take those vicious comments and let them roll off their shoulders. Imagine, then, how difficult it would be for a child or teenager to cope with such comments. The results could at the very least be unhealthy, and at the very worst could lead to desperate measures like drug abuse and/or suicide.
Anonymous apps are a risk, for sure. The question is whether or not it is a risk you are willing to take, and only you can make that decision.