Tuesday’s Term of the Week | Anonymous Messaging

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Social media trends are constantly changing. One of the most popular trends today is Anonymous Messaging, which allows users to send messages to others – within a specific radius of their own phone – without revealing their identity.  Several anonymous messaging apps have sprung up, such as Snapchat, YikYak, Backchat, and others. To teens, this is a way to have more fun, pulling pranks and flirting anonymously, without the fear of rejection. It has the added benefit of being separate from many of the other social media sites that are now so commonly used by adults. It also allows them to put things on the internet and not face the consequences of future employers and college recruiters viewing what might be inappropriate content.

Adults enjoy utilizing the apps as well. For instance, the app Memo allows users to leave feedback for the company they work for, but anonymously. This acts as a modern-day comment box to allow employees to voice concerns about people and actions within their companies without having to worry about losing their job. Another app, called OneOne, is aimed at the business elite and gives users the ability to send messages that will self destruct in 24 hours. This avoids one of the biggest concerns of social media: hacking of users’ information. Business people who need to send sensitive information – like doctors and lawyers – can do so safely.

There are, however, some inherent dangers in anonymous messaging: cyberbullying, sexual predators, and cruelty from others when those others could not be held accountable for their actions. Despite what we were always taught, words do hurt, and they’re one of the most common weapons used today. Take for example, when a San Clemente High School went on lockdown after a threatening Yik Yak post caused a bomb scare on campus, Yik Yak founders responded by licensing Maponics School points, part of our School Boundaries product, to block use of the app at middle schools and high schools across the country.

These security issues have not slowed down investment in these apps, due largely in part to continued user popularity. A key consideration for anonymous messaging developers moving forward will be security within these applications, which can be provided – at least in part – by geolocation services.   Geofencing can also be utilized for inclusion, allowing for exclusivity within a certain area, company, event, or school. And exclusivity – making people feel as if they are part of a select few – is certainly good for business.