Over the past few days, Sarahah has rocketed in popularity as the new hot way for teens to send sneakily anonymous messages over social media.
The app is easy to sync with popular apps like Snapchat and Instagram, and it lets users send anonymous messages to one another. But its popularity with teens and potentially underage users, as well as the app’s potential to facilitate online bullying, has a lot of parents and users worried. So is Sarahah safe? That depends.
There are two facets to evaluating the safety of an online app like Sarahah. First, does the app provide users with a “safe” online experience? In other words, could the content of the app prove to be harmful to users, or expose them to hatred or undue harassment from other users? Second, is the app “safe” from a digital security standpoint?
Is the Experience Safe?
Every modern user of the internet has almost undoubtedly, at some point, run up against the uglier side of life online. Social media companies like MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, and so many others struggle constantly to curb online harassment. For the most part, it’s become almost impossible to insulate an active social media user from the occasional negative experience online. But Sarahah adds the additional issue of anonymity to the mix, which removes all the social barriers that typically keep people from being horrible to one another in real life. The app has already become a major breeding ground for cyberbullying, much like other anonymous messaging apps and sites like ASKfm, Whisper, Yik Yak, and Secret.
“Once you give people anonymity, they say all sorts of awful things,” Ben Zhao, a professor of computer science at the University of Chicago who has researched harassment in Whisper’s online community, told Inverse for a prior story. “If they [Sarahah] don’t correct this problem, I’d be surprised if it stuck around in its current form.”
The call on this one is pretty simple: Is Sarahah safe from a personal standpoint? If you or a loved one has been the victim of bullying or harassment, either online or off, then no, it is not. Sure, it’s possible to mute users and report messages. But as every other service has discovered, that won’t stop people who really want to make your life hell. There’s literally no point in exposing yourself to further harassment and the pain it causes by using the app.
What’s Sarahah Doing With My data? Is It Secure?
The only cause for concern, Turco says, is that Sarahah is basically a complete unknown. Created by Saudi programmer Zain al-Abidin Tawfiq, the app launched in February and first gained a following in the Middle East. But it’s not made by a major company. It’s just a random app that went viral.
Essentially, Turco says his only note of caution is in trusting a new company “without an established reputation or a lot of customer experience.” Most of the user feedback has centered around Sarahah’s facilitation of online bullying, not privacy concerns, but Turco’s advice is to always take a pause before signing up for a new app from a relatively unknown developer.
Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to delete your account.
We understand your fears and concerns regarding the privacy of your data on the internet. We have prepared this policy to help you understand the nature of the data we collect from your when visiting Sarahah and how we use this personal data.
We didn’t design this website to collect your personal data from your computer while browsing this site. But will only use the data you provided with you being aware and your personal desire.
At any time you visit any website on the internet including this website, the hosting server will record your internet protocol (IP) and the date and time of your visit and the type of the browser that you use and the URL of any website which referred you to this site on the web and the website may record it for different purposes.
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Your concerns and fears regarding data confidentiality and privacy is a highly valuable thing to us. We hope that we will address these concerns by this policy.
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