The Problem with Anonymous Social Networking

closedsecretapp4Secret, an app that allows its users to share messages anonymously within their circle of friends and with the public, announced today that it was shutting down.

And I couldn’t be happier.

While I never root for anyone or any business to fail, and I admire the effort involved in developing and marketing a business idea, Secret was just a bad idea from the start that got caught up in the social networking hype.

Secret, as well as similar apps such as Yik Yak and Whisper, and to some extent Snapchat, all fall into the category of apps that promise its users anonymity.

I’ve always questioned why you need anonymity when using social media, to me it almost seems like an oxymoron. How are you being social if you are also trying to remain anonymous?

To me it seems obvious what attracts users to such apps – the ability to say something you likely wouldn’t otherwise say since you face no repercussions. The apps are a perfect place to attack other users.

If you don’t have the courage to sign your name to a message you are about to post which could possibly offend someone, then you shouldn’t be posting such a message.

It comes down to personal responsibility. These anonymous apps allow people to avoid taking personal responsibility for their actions, and I don’t think that is the type of behavior we should encourage.

I’ve always been a fan of using real names on the Internet; if you write something and you don’t want to sign your real name to it, then I think you should probably think twice before posting such a message.

So goodbye Secret; I hope it starts a trend of shutting down similar apps.

Perhaps we can look back on 2015 as the year we came to our senses, and realized that it’s better to be kind and transparent than mean and secretive.

If you would like to read more about these anonymous apps, here are a couple of links:

Few Winners In Anonymous Social Networking, And Secret’s Not One Of Them

Investors Debate The Ethics Of Anonymity Apps

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Jim Borden

Accounting Prof. at Villanova; happily married for 30+ years; father of 3 outstanding young men; vegan; interests: fitness, creativity, education, blogging, social media.

3 thoughts on “The Problem with Anonymous Social Networking”

  1. There are people who prefer anonymity for less dubious reasons. Some people want to remain anonymous because they don’t want government or other organizations spying on their activities and opinions. Many people don’t like being tracked, or they wish to speak their mind even though they have a job that doesn’t allow them to do that. What about teachers who don’t want their pupils to see what they do out of school? Or bank managers who don’t want customers who have been refused loans to find out where they might be found. Or women with stalkers or obnoxious ex-husbands, people in the Bible belt who want to express atheist opinions without risking negative comment or LGBT people who aren’t ready to come out yet in public. Not to mention youngsters who want to be able to ditch their irresponsible youthful indiscretions once they’re applying for a job. Then there are those of us who have various persona’s on different forums just because it’s fun to be called something bookish on a bookish forum and something more appropriate elsewhere. There are any number of perfectly good reasons not to use your own name.




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