Christmas has came early for trolls – the perfect tool to harass and abuse people online has arrived all wrapped up in the code contained within the Sarahah application.
The new viral sensation – Sarahah is an app that allows you to send messages to people under the shard of absolute anonymity. Sarahah is an Arabic term that means honesty. The application already has over 300 million users and has raised concerns from parents, educators that it could be used for online bullying and abuse.
Many people are calling the application evil or the work of a sadistic and perverted mind. But no one has stopped to ask this question – Is it the applications fault or the users who are using it? The app is a platform. The users are the problem. The Sarahah app is a sad inducement of all that is wrong with our society today.
The maker of the application Zain al-Abidin Tawfiq asserts that the purpose of the app is to send constructive feedback. However, going by the number of messages posted on social media about how the applications is being used to harass people, it has proved the age old saying – when you give people a mask, they will reveal their ugliest self.
The Sarahah app has proved the age old saying – when you give people a mask, they will reveal their ugliest self
Sarahah is a perfect application for two kinds of people – for narcissistic people who believe that the world revolves around themselves and for sadistic trolls who get pleasure out of abusing and harassing people online.
The potential of misuse of the Sarahah app is enormous. Anonymity is a addictive drug that can be misused very badly. Humans tend to have a very nasty sadistic side to them which comes out at its worst when we have a mask of anonymity over our identities. We say toxic things which we will never dare to verbalize face to face.
The app has all the makings of becoming a breeding ground of hate and enmity. One distinct feature of the app which makes it even easier for bullies to thrive is the fact that you can deactivate your own account but still send messages to others. This is like having the cake and eating it too – you will not be able to receive messages but send as many you can.
The application is also being abused by those who just want to feed their ego. You can send messages to yourself and proudly display them on social media. This is a sad indictment of the society we live in today – where Facebook likes, Snapchat followers and Instagram likes matter more to people than actual friends, face to face interactions and familial bonds.
Sarahah is a perfect app for two kinds of people – for narcissistic folks who believe that the world revolves around themselves and for sadistic trolls
The television show Black Mirror paints a very bleak future where we are ruled by technology – a future where our social media profiles dictate our standing in the society. Seeing how today’s generation prefers communicating via WhatsApp and Snapchat over having a real face-to-face talk, we are surely heading towards that very future.
The app is also being used to harass women and even men in a perverted way. Users on Twitter posted the following message they got from the Sarahah app – “Yhu so sexy, yhu should become a stripper”, “Honestly, I just want to grab your fat ass”, “You a hoe” and so on. This is the tip of the iceberg. Many people are being negatively affected by such messages and are having to uninstall the application.
The app is the perfect recipe for depression. It will either make you feel very good about yourself or aggravate every insecurity, every misgiving and every uncertainty you have ever felt about yourself. It can very well drive people over the edge.
There are many heart wrenching and downright chilling reviews on Google Play. One user said that the constant abuse sent over the app forced one of her friends to commit suicide. Many others are calling the app unsafe, a platform for cyber bullying and more.
The potential of misuse of the Sarahah app is enormous. Anonymity is a addictive drug that can be misused very badly
If you think the app has people monitoring the content – do not raise your hopes. They have 3 staff members. In total. I feel that is a rather small number to screen the 300 million plus users the app has already garnered. In Twitter or Facebook, even if someone uses anonymous handles to post abusive tweets, you can report them to twitter. You cannot do anything of the sort in Sarahah. Honesty? Not so much.
This is not the first time an application has come under the scanner for encouraging online harassment. In the past, apps like AskFM and YikYak were accused of promoting bullying and abuse. In fact AskFM was blamed for a string of teenage suicides in UK and Italy in 2012.
Tawfiq, the developer of the app has said that the company takes these issues very seriously and has introduces a slew of measures such as the ability to block users and word filters to prevent abuse. However, at the end of the day, the responsibility lies in the hands of us – the users.
We as a society have become thoroughly accustomed to anonymity. So much so, that we seemed to have forgotten the basic morals and codes of conduct that weave a society together. Anonymity brings out the worst and the ugliest sides of our being and sadly apps like Sarahah inadvertently encourage and propagate such behavior.