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Sarahah iconThere’s a new app making waves in the tech world, and it’s called Sarahah. This new anonymous messaging app comes from the Middle East, and opens potential for cyber-bullying and other malicious behavior.

Here’s the app description from the App Store:

Sarahah helps you in discovering your strengths and areas for improvement by receiving honest feedback from your employees and your friends in a private manner."

The app was introduced to the U.S. in June 2017 and shot to #1 on both Google Play and the App Store in just 12 days. Mentions on Instagram and linking to profiles in Snapchat appear to be the reason for the sudden rise.

The app began in the Middle East—its name, Sarahah, is the Arabic word for “honesty” or “frankness”—where face-to-face confrontation is socially unacceptable. Apparently the goal was for employers and employees to be able to share honest feedback with each other with the goal of improving. In that kind of culture, an app like this makes some sense.

Reading through the reviews on the App Store, that does appear to be how some people are using it. However, there are also many reviews that state people are using it to be “mean” to each other. These same reviewers mention how frustrating it is to not even know the source of the comment to be able to talk to that person about it. And this is the challenge with anonymous apps and feedback. People often hide behind anonymity, saying things online they wouldn’t say to someone’s face.

As with other anonymous apps, this one is receiving some pretty strong backlash because of it’s high potential for cyber-bullying. Like the anonymous apps that came before it, it is possible Sarahah is just another hot app that fizzles quickly. Only time will tell.

Its meteoric rise in popularity is a testament to the teen desire for authentic feedback and should give us cause to pause: Why do our children not feel like they’re receiving honest feedback from more established social media outlets or even from more traditional means? That problem is larger than this one app, and will require us as parents talking to our kids and setting an example of loving our neighbors, even when we’re online.

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