The anonymous apps you should know about

There is a growing trend toward anonymous sharing of pictures, messages, secrets and rumours. It is thought that this is in retaliation against Facebook’s determinism towards making everything we do public on the Internet. Here are seven of the most popular anonymous apps in the Android and iOS stores.

1. Snapchat
If you don’t already know what Snapchat is, it’s a photo and video messaging app where you can edit your ‘Snaps’ using filters, text and drawings, before sending them to your friends. Sharing Snaps on ‘My Story’ means that all your contacts can see your string of moments taken over the course of a day. Sharing Snaps on ‘Our Story’ means Snapchatters who are at the same event or location can unite and contribute their Snaps to the same Story. Snapchat’s new “Live” section is contributed to by the Snapchat users attending events around the world and these Snaps can be viewed live.

Created in 2011 by Stanford University students, only two years later Facebook reportedly offered $3 billion for it. In January this year, a security flaw in Snapchat’s Find Friends feature led to 4.6 million usernames and phone numbers being leaked, leading to questions over the privacy of photos and videos being sent.

Being able to add and decline people so that not everyone can see your Story can be good for an anonymous app. Each video and photo users send is ephemeral, meaning they only last seconds, and can only be viewed a maximum of twice in the day. With plans to enable a music feature and QR scanning, the future for Snapchat looks bright.

2. Fling
Along the same lines of Snapchat, Fling is a photo, video and message sharing app, which instead of sending to friends, sends to up to 50 random users around the world. Once you send a ‘Fling’, you will see a map with the location of the users it has been sent to. These users can then message you privately and you can message people too, once you receive a Fling from them.

Founded in June 2014 as a side project of a UK student-only social network called Unii, it has received around £6.8million in funding. Due to Fling’s quick success, it’s now been separated into its own company.

Unlike Snapchat, Flings are not ephemeral, so sending rude or cheeky Flings isn’t such a good idea.

3. Whisper
Sharing secrets anonymously is exactly what Whisper is all about. Broadcast your thoughts, stories and feelings as a snippet of text; superimpose it over an image or take your own, and there you have it, your own Whisper tile. Users can search Whispers grouped by topics and places or browse the most popular, nearby and latest posts. Adding the university you attend to your account allows you to find out what people are Whispering about at your school. You can reply to secrets, like them, see similar posts and message Whisperers anonymously.

Launched in March 2012 in California by TigerText co-founders, last year, Whisper was reportedly valuated at $100million with a reported 3 billion monthly page-views. Recent allegations made by the Guardian that Whisper stores user data and provides the FBI and MI5 with it, were fervently disputed by Whisper.

You can read Whispers on the app and on their website, too. Although Whisper doesn’t provide any of their own support services, they do have a project called Your Voice, which offers links to resources users can access for support on mental health issues.

4. Secret
Similar to Whisper, Secret allows users to share text that can be superimposed onto a background via photo-sharing site, Flickr or, users can take their own picture. In Secret, you connect to your friends but everything that identifies you, for example your name and profile picture, is removed. The focus is all on the secrets. When you post a Secret, all of your friends can see it. When your friends like or comment on your secret, it gets shared with their friends. Users can search through friends and friends of friends’ Secrets and when location is enabled, users can see nearby Secrets.

Ten months ago, Secret co-founders, former Square and Google employees, released Secret privately in Silicon Valley. Over the next few months, Secret was hailed to be the latest craze by technology news sites. By the end of September, only six months since starting, Secret had raised over $25million with a $100million valuation.

Secret is intended as sharing between friends, making it different to other anonymous apps. Trying to work out which friend shared what Secret is all part of the fun.

5. Yik Yak
Based on location, Yik Yak is a live feed of status’ that can be upvoted, downvoted and commented on. Users are able to ‘peek’ into other locations such as universities or you can search locations to peek anywhere around the world. As an incentive to be an active user on Yik Yak, posting commenting and voting on posts earns you Yakarma points.

Two graduates from Furman University, South Carolina developed the idea in a class they learned how to code iPhone apps in. After graduating, they continued with the project and in November 2013, Yik Yak was released. After five months, they secured $1.5million and then $10million in funding. It was ranked as the 9th most downloaded social media app in the United States.

To avoid cyber-bullying, Yik Yak uses geofencing, which means certain areas, such as middle schools and high schools are unable to use the app. However, universities are not fenced and even though Yik Yak’s rules state twice not to bully or specifically target other yakkers, widespread bullying and harassment has lead to some universities and Huffington Post trying to ban the app. Nevertheless, Yik Yak remains very popular in the US among students and with more supporters than ever before, Yik Yak is going from strength to strength.

6. Mumble
Very similar to Yik Yak, Mumble allows users to post anonymous ‘mumbles’ tagging and hashtagging landmarks and topics of interest. Browse, like and leave messages on mumbles near you and around the world. Users can view the most popular tags and the trending mumbles.

Developed by University of Nottingham students in the UK, it was only released a few weeks ago.

The potential for Mumble to be the UK’s version Yik Yak makes Mumble an app to watch out for.

7. Parlor
The only voice based anonymous app on the market, Parlor is not like any other. Opening the app, users have twelve topics to choose from including: random, music, games and dating. Once a topic to talk about is selected, within moments you are connected and in a one-to-one private conversation with someone from anywhere in the world. You can personalise your profile by adding a picture and nickname. If chats are inappropriate, you can flag and block users. Conversations can last as long as you want them to and there are no limits to the number of conversations you have. Once you’ve ended your conversation, you can message users afterwards and even exchange pictures.

Co-founded in New York and in development since 2011, one of the founders has already built a mobile voice platform and prank calling app which has totalled 6m downloads. Parlor was developed from these experiences and the co-founders have since developed a number of similar voice based apps. With over 20 thousand downloads just on iOS, Parlor is estimated to be worth $736thousand.

Parlor is the world’s first anonymous social talking network and it’s only just starting to take off. It’s like ChatRoulette, but on your phone and tablet, without the webcam.

Photo Credit: Apple Lover via Compfight cc

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I'm a Computer Science student at the University of Nottingham and I like to think that procrastination is another form of keeping busy.

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