When you visit the app store, you expect to see familiar names like YouTube, Snapchat and Instagram at the top of the charts. But the #1 most popular app just might surprise you. App store customers shockingly saw an unknown app named Sarahah recently claim the top spot on both Apple’s U.S. App Store and the Google Play Store.
So what exactly is Sarahah? It could develop into the most addicting app on your smart phone. Here are five things to know:
How does it work?
Sarahah is the latest development in anonymous instant messaging. Users can search the app for people they know and submit comments without having to identify themselves. Although Sarahah’s website makes it clear that they will not reveal user’s identity without permission, the app does provide certain filters to give users some say in who messages them.
The Sarahah staff classifies their product as something that "helps you in discovering your strengths and areas for improvement by receiving honest feedback from your employees and your friends in a private manner.” Users can even emulate other social media platforms by having the option to “favorite” messages.
It certainly isn’t the app store’s first attempt at implementing anonymous instant messaging, but users are optimistic that Sarahah will outlast its predecessors.
How did it start?
The mind behind Sarahah is Saudi Arabian innovator Zain al-Abidin Tawfiq. Despite it’s popularity among young teens, Sarahah was actually created for office environments. The name Sarahah itself loosely means “honesty” or “openness."
The app’s fundamental purpose was to offer anonymous advice throughout the workplace. But with the help of teens worldwide, Sarahah has found itself a different niche. More often than not, the app has instigated a lot of high school drama rather than working as an outlet for professional advice.
It’s partnered with Snapchat.
Sarahah is definitely doing their best to surround themselves with profitable companies. One of the trademark features of Sarahah is that it can be used in partnership with your Snapchat account.
Once you create your account on Sarahah, you receive a custom link that you can give out to people and those people are then permitted to send you comments directly. Snapchat is a known Sarahah distribution platform and Snap users can attach their Sarahah link to their Snap story, rendering it accessible to all of their followers. If the particular Snapchat account is public, anyone has the ability to comment without giving up his or her identity.
Once they receive comments, Snapchat users are able to screenshot them and post them publicly on their Snap story.
Sarahah’s potential for cyberbullying and harassment among users has caused tremendous concern. The app’s design is catered to let users leave remarks without the burden of social etiquette. Add the anonymous aspect to the equation and you can understand how people are worried about the consequences for teens.
Tawfiq’s vision was to break the barriers of modern communication, which intrinsically comes with the danger of anonymous messaging. Reports have emerged of disrespectful and vulgar comments flooding through the Sarahah App. Users have even complained directly to the app store about accounts filled with comments that are both sexually and racially insensitive.
Sarahah isn’t the first of its kind.
As previously mentioned, Sarahah isn’t the pioneer of this anonymous instant messaging concept. Smartphone users are no stranger to apps like Yik Yak, Formspring and Ask.fm, where people can leave anonymous comments under a protected identity. Cyberbullying and harassment have been the primary reason for their ultimate failures. Aside from bullying concerns, the apps just don’t seem to have anything else to offer.
Each app has enjoyed its 15 minutes of fame before fading into memory when the app store releases something new. Because of Sarahah's strong bonds established with Snapchat, the modern day king of social media, Tawfiq is hopeful that his dream of barrier free, honest, anonymous communication will outlast its predecessors.