We’ve all wanted to tell our friends or perhaps our bosses about their annoying habits. But most of us don’t have the courage to do this face-to-face. Well there’s an app that will let you deliver some criticism constructively. Sarahah, created by Saudi developer ZainAlabdin Tawfiq, has gone viral and allows anonymous messaging. But of course, the risk is that people will quickly start sending hateful texts to their friends, acquaintances and that’s already happening with Sarahah.
The idea is so popular, Sarahah was on top of Apple App Store in over 30 countries in July. The app has also become popular on Snapchat with people linking their Sarahah profiles to Snapchat Stories. According to a BBC report, this has over 300 million users already. So what is this viral messaging app all about? We answer everything you need to know.
What is Sarahah app?
“Sarahah helps people self-develop by receiving constructive anonymous feedback,” reads the apps description on Google Play Store. Interestingly, Sarahah means ‘honesty’ in Arabic, though this honesty is delivered anonymously. The app is available in English as well as Arabic for iOS and Android users.
So how does Sarahah app work?
Like any other app, after you’ve downloaded Sarahah, you’ll have to set up an account. Simply put in your username, name, email, and enter a password. This messaging app doesn’t require your mobile number, which makes sense given this is about anonymity.
Once logged in, you can share your Sarahah link (it usually reads xyz.sarahah.com) on Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp or copy the link and post it to a different social network. Anyone who has the link will be able to send you messages. This could be friends, even strangers who are on the app or those who are not even on the app.
For sending a message, a user has click on the link, which will open a text box with a message, “Leave a constructive message.” Obviously, the constructive part is lost on most folks. People can type in their message and hit send. When a user receives the message, they just get the text and don’t know who sent this particular message.
What else does Sarahah offer? Is it like a regular messaging app?
No, this is not a regular messaging app, and other than sending random anonymous messages to people it doesn’t offer much. The tabs on the app are limited to Messages, Search, Explore, and Profile. All received, sent and favourite messages appear in ‘Messages’ tab. When you receive a message you can favourite it or block the user or even report it. Though what happens after you report a message is unclear.
The ‘Favorite’ tab shows messages where you have tapped the heart symbol. Sent shows all the ‘constructive’ criticism you have been sending on the app. Meanwhile ‘Search’ tab lets you search for people to send them anonymous messages. Next up, there’s an ‘Explore’ tab which isn’t live yet. “SOON. This feature will be available next update, be alert!,” reads the page. We’re not sure what the developers plan to do with this.
Finally, the ‘Profile’ page lets you manage your profile. It shows a user’s profile picture along with Sarahah username, and number of messages received.
This app sounds like a nightmare. What are the privacy options?
Sarahah is perfect territory for cyber bullying. The problem is that avoiding some of the hate on the app is not easy. You can report a message, block user but what happens to those who send abusive messages is unclear.
Further you can go in the settings and disable the option to ‘Appear in search’. Another setting ensures that non-registered users can’t message you on the app. The big problem is there’s no way of knowing who’s sent you a message.
The app shows four icons below each message – a red flag to report message, block icon, reply, and a heart icon to mark message as favourite. Don’t mistake the reply button for actually replying to the person, who sent you the message. Reply, for some weird reason, lets you forward a message to friends via social media platforms such as Facebook, Messenger, Snapchat, WhatsApp, and more.
Sarahah offers limited setting options as of now. While there’s an option to Logout of the app, we couldn’t find one to delete account on the app itself. To delete the account, you have to log into the website version of the messaging service and go to settings to remove accounts.
So should you be using Sarahah?
Sarahah is masquerading as a fun app to let friends or colleagues know their irritating public habits. But these things can quickly spiral out of control. The internet still remains a place which brings out the worst in people and with anonymous messaging there are grave risks attached.
Sarahah might remind some of apps like Secret, Whisper. The truth is that receiving rude messages will be a harrowing experience for most. While the app talks about giving ‘constructive feedback,’ remember even anonymous messages have the power to hurt.