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Anonymous apps such as Whisper come with a lot of freedom, but if you use them improperly it’s easy to harm yourself or others!

Whisper is an app built entirely on good intentions. The app’s creator Michael Heyword created the app to be a medium where people could share their innermost feelings with users in a supportive and safe environment.

The thing is, the concept behind Whisper isn’t actually that new. Other, apps such as the now-defunct PostSecret app and Secret have tried to be a safe space for people to post anonymous comments, but have ultimately failed to prevent the ugly parts of anonymity from seeping through in posts and comments.

Whisper from FB

It is incredibly easy to get started using Whisper.

Hit the post button and enter your secret into Whisper. The app will automatically select a background for you before allowing you to post to the app’s feed. Feeds can be sorted by your school, your location, keywords, most recent, and most popular, giving you plenty of opportunities for finding a community to hear your ‘whispers’.

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The app automatically assigns each user an anonymous handle, or users can create one of their own. These handles are used to identify each user’s whispers, and to allow users the chance to comment on each other’s secrets or to start private chats.

There very well may be a need for an anonymous secret-sharing app — certainly, Whisper’s 10 million active monthly users think so — but in order to keep the app a safe space, and to keep yourself safe while using it, there are certain unofficial rules that need to be followed!

1. Don’t Post Identifying Information

WhisperOversharing

I feel like this one should go without saying, but it really is the key to all anonymous communities. If you post identifying information about yourself or others (including names, addresses, and phone numbers) you are working against the spirit of the app’s community, and could end up being banned from the app.

Sharing your own information also leads to a huge number of potential risks, and sharing other people’s information is cruel as it exposes them to those same risks without their consent.

2. Don’t Get Addicted to the Attention

It feels good to get notifications on something that we post online, and that feeling can become addictive. That’s not just vanity, it’s actually a chemical reaction involving the neurotransmitter dopamine and a reward pathway in the brain similar to the one that controls other addictions such as food or drugs. Seriously — Internet Addiction Disorder Facebook Psychology - Is Addiction Affecting Our Minds? [INFOGRAPHIC] Facebook Psychology - Is Addiction Affecting Our Minds? [INFOGRAPHIC] Internet Addiction Disorder (otherwise known as Facebookalitis) is set to become the big psychological disorder of the 21st century - and it seems we have mostly Facebook to thank for that. Thanks to the social... Read More is actually a real thing.

Having another outlet for our thoughts online, especially one that involves near-instant gratification from Whisper’s very active userbase can make the app incredibly addictive. Be careful that you don’t over-use this app to the point that it costs you productivity or causes you to share overly personal thoughts just to get the ‘rush’ of a new notification.

3. Don’t Use Identifying Photos

I know that we’ve already covered not posting identifying information in your whispers, but the use of photo backgrounds in the app necessitates another consideration. While most users tend to use the photos automatically selected by the app based on keywords in their whispers, there is also the option to post your own photos as the backgrounds for your secrets instead.

If you do choose to use your own photo, be sure that it does not reveal any information about your location or identity. This app and your secrets are open to any user who downloads it — you want to be sure that your photos aren’t actively working against the anonymity (and therefore safety) that the app gives you.

4. Don’t Ignore the App’s Age Requirement

It’s naïve to assume that Whisper’s single screen asking users to confirm they are 17 years of age or older is enough to actually deter high school students from using the app. However, the app definitely contains mature content and many teens do not have a grasp of the far-reaching consequences that can occur when sensitive information is shared online.

Whisper is one of many age-inappropriate apps popular with teens 5 iPhone Apps Your Teenager Has Probably Installed 5 iPhone Apps Your Teenager Has Probably Installed As a parent, you can be forgiven for wondering: "How do I help my child use their phone wisely when I don't even know what the danger is?" Read More . If you notice that your child is already using Whisper, it’s important to have a discussion with them about the content that concerns you, and you may want to consider limiting the app’s use.

5. Don’t Assume Your Post Will DisappearWhisper or BuzzFeed?

Many apps with anonymous feeds, such as Yik Yak, are based around the idea that after a certain period of time your secret will disappear from public view. That, however, is not necessarily the case with Whisper.

All posts created on Whisper become the property of the company, and there is no guarantee that your secret won’t surface again in the future. The app’s website features curated lists of secrets (à la Buzzfeed) and highlights popular secrets that are shared across platforms.

While this is fun for innocuous secrets, it may not be as fun if it is a highly personal, potentially identifying, or sensitive secret that is published in this way – a factor to consider when deciding what to post on the app.

6. Don’t Overshare if Your Local Feed is Quiet

Be even more careful about oversharing if you live in an area without much activity on Whisper. It is surprisingly easy to put together pieces of a person’s story from unrelated posts on message boards and apps – a comment about a step-son, a complaint about your job, and a confession about a favourite show can quickly undermine your anonymity if you are the only one posting.

7. Don’t Try to Pick Up AnonymouslyCreepy People on Whisper

Secret sharing apps can often act as a replacement for journalling, therapy, or conversation. The one thing they should never be a substitute for? A dating app.

You are literally using an app centred on anonymity that offers all of the tools someone would need for deception and manipulation – why on earth would you think it’s a good place to make a romantic connection? Download Tinder or one of the many other dating apps Tired of Tinder? Seven Free Alternative Dating Apps Tired of Tinder? Seven Free Alternative Dating Apps Now that Tinder is charging for its services, it might be time to turn to one of the many other dating apps available. Which will you try? Read More available online instead!

8. Don’t Arrange Meet-Ups

When sharing secrets it is easy to form attachments to other anonymous users who seem to understand what you are going through. While, obviously, not every user of this app is going to be an unsavoury character you should exercise extreme caution when considering meeting up with someone who is completely anonymous.

If you do decide to meet up with someone from the app, be sure that you take every precaution possible (make sure others know you are going to be meeting up with them, have a friend with you, meet in a public location) and prepare yourself – meeting anonymous people from the Internet in real life can be disenchanting or even dangerous.

And don’t forget, this person knows some of your innermost secrets — and now your identity too.

9. Don’t Believe You are Fully Anonymous

It’s nearly impossible to actually be anonymous online Can You Really Be Anonymous Online? Can You Really Be Anonymous Online? We all have things we'd rather not tell the world about. I think it's time we clear up a few things about anonymity online -- and answer once and for all, whether it's really possible. Read More , and as we’ve seen with Snapchat, even apps that try to guarantee your anonymity can be (and are) fallible. While you aren’t required to sign up for Whisper (negating any connections to your email, Twitter or Facebook accounts), your IP address is required to use the app, and Whisper does keep secrets grouped by user in their database so that they can track users they are concerned about.

Whisper does also comply with police investigations — even secrets worded as a joke that hint at illegal activities can be traced back to you and have real-world consequences!

10. Don’t Contribute to a Negative Environment

WhisperEncourage

It is so easy for online spaces intended to be safe havens to become toxic environments instead. Whisper is trying to fill a niche in the app market that has been held by two other similar apps (PostSecret and Secret) in the past, both of which were pulled from circulation because of concerns about the harmful communities that were created.

Your actions contribute a lot to the environment of the online spaces you spend your time on, so make every interaction you have with people on Whisper a positive one and report hurtful or dangerous secrets/comments.

Whisper With Caution

Anonymity can be incredibly refreshing in a world oversaturated with forms of social media that pressure you into showcasing the highlight reel of your life. There are a lot of things you can’t share on Facebook Some Things Should Remain Private: What Not To Share On Facebook Some Things Should Remain Private: What Not To Share On Facebook Ah, Facebook. The grandfather of all social networks, where we all share all sorts of weird things without a second thought. Despite its horrible reputation when it comes to privacy, Facebook still manages to lull... Read More , but that are perfectly acceptable to share when your name isn’t attached, and Whisper gives people the opportunity to do so.

Apps like Whisper are popular for a reason, and can be incredibly beneficial for those who feel the need to unload their secrets. However, as beneficial as it may be to spill your secrets online in the short term, it may not be the best long-term solution.

Have you used Whisper? Are there any “Don’ts” you would add to this list?

Image Credit: Man telling an astonished woman a secret via Shutterstock

  1. Gracelee
    July 31, 2016 at 12:55 am

    I think it's stupid and ridiculous that you cannot log out of your account. I had my original whisper account on my other phone and when I got a new phone, I wasn't able to get into my old account. So naturally, I made a new one. Once I realized that you couldn't log out of your account, I emailed Whisper and asked them to delete my new account, thinking that I'd be able to try and get into my original one again. This was before I realized that once whisper deletes your account, you are unable to post anything on whisper anymore or make a new account. Which is also, extremely stupid and ridiculous. Another problem I have with whisper is that you aren't able to see the people you have blocked in the past, and can't unblock them. On another occasion, I blocked someone on accident, thinking I was just deleting the conversation, and it was only after the fact that I did it that I realized that I blocked them because a notification from whisper came up thanking me for blocking them. In my personal opinion, I think whisper is a fun app, however it still needs a lot of fixing.

    • Janelle Trujillo
      October 8, 2016 at 5:35 pm

      Wait, what?? If you have your account deleted the app won't allow you to create a new account on that same phone?? I was also tryin to log out when I realized they had no option for it so I uninstalled the app hoping it would "log me out". When I re-installed the app it still had me logged in. SMH. I think they need to fix that also.

  2. GRAY FEN
    July 15, 2016 at 6:02 pm

    In a parallel universe I'd be using more than one phone, equipped with any one of a number of fake GPS apps to spoof my location, and using Whisper to socially engineer and manipulate vulnerable lonely people who crave any kind of human contact.

    I'd pose as both male and female, I;d play one against the other and I haven't even stretched my criminalistic muscle yet.

    I'd make bank.

    Other than those obvious and simple methods of deception, Whisper is a dangerous, toxic app filled with LGBT agenda-laden content aimed directly at teenagers. Sanctioned 'safe' Google images that promote an overt and insidious sexuality, poisonous posts that more than hint at paedophilia, fake anxiety-heavy posts about suicide and other taboo subjects and on the whole it's a very negative experience.

    It will kill the art of communication FAST to anyone who uses it.

    Stay away from Whisper, simple as that.

    • Briallyn Smith
      July 19, 2016 at 8:49 pm

      Hi Gray Fen – we disagree on some of your points, but I will agree that there are some safety concerns and harmful messages that are present on Whisper and people should definitely be aware of them before they use the service.

      • Patriot
        July 31, 2016 at 10:04 am

        Thank you because i was gonna make an acc but i think its not a good idea anyway thanks lady.

  3. Madara
    June 5, 2016 at 10:14 am

    and don't make fake posts just to get to the popular page

    • Briallyn Smith
      July 19, 2016 at 8:47 pm

      That can definitely be frustrating - in an ideal world, that definitely wouldn't happen!

  4. Serena
    April 15, 2016 at 6:43 pm

    I also met my future husband on Whisper. Our first meet was at Subway on my lunch break from work and the rest was history. We are now engaged and getting married next March.

    • Briallyn Smith
      April 23, 2016 at 2:40 am

      I'm happy to be proved wrong on this one, Serena! Best wishes to you and your future husband, and I'm glad that you have both found love and happiness!

    • Lilianna
      November 1, 2016 at 11:09 pm

      Me too! It wasn't supposed to be anything, but it turned out we had a lot in common and really fell for each other. We met at a bar and he was honest from the gate.

  5. Andrew
    December 23, 2015 at 4:20 am

    I must strongly disagree with 7 and 8 on this list, I have not only used it to hook up with people but also found the love of my life on whisper, it's perhaps the best dating app ever created, unlike tinder or okcupid which feels like a bar where everyone is competing and covering up their flaws whisper starts from a single thought someone wants to share about themselves. Obviously when I say this I'm assuming you're going to have a conversation that goes on for a while before meeting up but the rules for staying safe meeting someone from whisper are no different than any other online dating service

    • Sennomo
      March 1, 2016 at 9:22 pm

      The point is, that before you meet the person, you will never know, if the person uses the real identity. Because it is very easy to lie about it.

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