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Cloak and dagger natter, the rise of anonymity apps

We all have a bit of a moan about our jobs from time to time but not many of us will openly shout about it in the office or online for the fear of the boss being directly behind you or seeing the comment  - Awkward! 

However, with new anonymity apps sweeping the nation people are jumping at the chance to share their deepest, darkest and most brutally honest comments online. 

Apps such as Secret and Whisper allow you to comment to friends completely anonymously – no name, no picture, nothing! They’ve already proved a hit in Silicon Valley with tech workers using the app to openly moan about their jobs and colleagues with no holding back.

Secret  was created by David Byttow, a former software developer at Google and Square, and his friend Chrys Bader-Wechseler. 

To sign up, all you need is your mobile number or email address and you’re ready to post your deepest, darkest secrets online. Once a secret has been posted, “I’m going to propose to my girlfriend on Saturday”  for example, your phone and email contacts who are also on Secret will be able to see the secret and hit the heart to show they ‘love’ it, allowing their friends to see the secret too. So if you post a popular secret, it can become visible to thousands online within minutes. 

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Whisper was created by two Google engineers who wanted to engage with co-workers and provide genuine feedback.  The service, which was paid up until May 2013, is very similar in concept to Secret: it allows users to post an anonymous message in the form of an image macro, and respond to messages publicly or privately, choosing a public anonymous post or a private pseudonymous chat.

The app now sees  more than 100,000 new posts daily and monthly page views doubled by the end of 2013 to almost 3 billion; traffic is also up by 1,000% in 12 months.

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Whisper also announced its partnership with Media site BuzzFeed on Monday, allowing writers at Buzzfeed to use the comments posted on Whisper as source of material for articles. 

How could this affect the online world? 

There is lot of pressure to add the perfect comment - think about it; we don’t want to be too offensive, we don’t want to sound weird, what will our colleagues think? And we definitely do not want our parents to see that comment! 

So with complete anonymity all this is stripped away to leave complete honesty. We can say what we like, when we like and how we like. 

People can also post about their worries without the fear of being mocked; a Secret message read Fact: It's downright scary to hire your first woman onto an all-male team". You wouldn’t normally want to post this all over Twitter or Facebook because of the exposure this would lead to - these types of apps mean that you can, without fear of reprisal or bad publicity.

This is all good, but how long will it take for apps like these to cause serious issues? Well, they already are; another app called Yik Yak caused a California high school to go into lockdown because someone posted an anonymous bomb threat! 

And what’s stopping people doing worse? It’s anonymous so no consequences – right?