The Internet’s Worst Kept Secret

Secret, the app that lets you post/read freely anonymously, just launched for Android after a long time of being an iOS exclusive. It’s a well designed app that delivers on the promise of free speech, but I can’t help notice one aspect that people seem to have overlooked.

For an app that’s focused around anonymous self-expression, Secret is awfully invasive of your privacy. You’d expect to simply install the app and start posting away, but you can’t. You have to sign in by entering your email address and your phone. This instantly changed my perception of the anonymous promise.

Sure you can enter fake info and proceed, but you don’t get too far unless you verify that info and give them your friends’ email addresses/phone numbers to invite them to use the app. If you don’t invite people or verify your info, you’ll see far less secrets than you’d expect. I don’t understand why. How can this incentivizing of parting/disclosing personal information work in the context of an anonymous service? Think about it: Secret knows who are, where you live, every ‘secret’ you’ve shared on the service AND who your friends are. In this age where security breaches and leaks of personal data are almost commonplace, how can you trust your secrets and relationships with a service that can connect all the dots back to you so directly? Doesn’t anyone truly care about privacy?

In this context, Twitter is actually a far more private and anonymous service than Secret. You don’t need to verify your identity at all. All you do is pick a username and you’re good to go. Yes, you have to enter an email address, but any disposable one will do, because Twitter works even if you never click on that verification email. But more importantly, Twitter doesn’t impose any network limits upon you if you don’t verify your email or phone number. Other than protected accounts, the whole Twitterverse is open for you to stroll through. And no one will know who you are.

Twitter is a better secret than Secret.

Although, I have to say that the concept of putting a background image, deciding how much to blur/focus it and then putting text over is a great idea. I’d love to see something like that in Twitter!



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