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After writing up a news article about Spraffl, I grew very curious about how it worked. The app is described as one that connects people to an “anonymous social experiment”. I chatted up a few of my peers about the peculiar piece of software, but all of the responses I received were fairly similar:
“What’s the point?”
“Why would I want to connect with people who I don’t know?”
“If people don’t know who I am, then why would they want to talk to me?”
Each person I spoke to offered very valid reasons. However, I still see some potential in Spraffl.
Anonymous Social Networking
Spraffl’s in the business of anonymous social networking, and yes, that’s a paradoxical statement. When I introduce myself in a social setting, I typically tell the other person my name and a humorous story that may or may not be true. But if life were like Spraffl, I would leave out the name and tell the story while in the same situation. I suppose you could compare it to small talk on the bus.
When you first open Spraffl, you’ll be shown a map that zooms out from your location, searching for nearby “spraffs” (or posts). If you look at a wide view of the app, you’ll see numbers depicting how many users are in certain regions. As you can tell by the map in the image, things are looking very empty right now for my area. Hopefully that will change.
Spraffl can also track you in the event that you are posting false information or bullying someone. If one of your posts is flagged five times, it is taken down. Furthermore, there’s a “three strikes, and you’re out” system for banning users who are abusing the application.
On the technical side, the app is only currently available via iPhone. However, an Android version will be available soon.
Share With People You Don’t Know
Ever wanted to publicly shame someone without them knowing you are behind it? Well, with Spraffl, this dream can come true! Except not, as explained with the above flagging system. But really, the whole focus of the app is connecting people who don’t know each other. In fact, they can do it without ever knowing each other. Every single post is anonymously shared and only geotagged.
Users can easily share posts and images with people in their area and comment on posts by other Sprafflers in others. These posts and images are shared under one of the following categories:
Users can view the different categories by looking at the appropriate icons on the Spraffl world map. Other users’ icons appear in the color green, and self-posts are blue.
Your Geographic Friend List
Despite the user anonymity features that Spraffl likes to push forward, the more interesting aspect of the app is its geographical focus. As I said before, posts are automatically geotagged wherever you post. This creates a more “public-crier” type of feel to the app, and I can see where this will allow for local news or announcements in the future.
For instance, a person could alert the public that there is an accident on the highway at a certain exit. Maybe there’s a new store opening in town. In a sense, Spraffl helps you make public announcements actually to the public and not just your friends.
Of course, it has its downfalls. There is obviously room for abuse – plenty of people have the capability to cry wolf. Even with a flagging system in place, there is the potential to do damage while a post is temporarily up.
Even Though Things Are Looking Pretty Bare…
The app doesn’t have many users. It’s quite obvious, and I’m curious as to if that will change in the future. We’ve seen how Twitter and Facebook have revolutionized the world through social sharing, but this has usually been with the users’ identities revealed. This time around, everyone is a blank face.
Personally, I foresee the app gaining popularity among actual revolutions. Consider the protests that have been happening worldwide in the past few years. Social sharing served as legitimate news sources during this time, but many users were under the threat of their identities being revealed. With Spraffl, that can change. People can share important information without even having to reveal their identities.
Of course, that’s not what the app is designed for. It’s supposed to be fun! That said, will you use Spraffl if its popularity picks up? What are some negative issues that you see with the app?