One of the reasons we all fell in love with the Internet back in the 90s was the ability to interact with others completely anonymously. Remember chat rooms? There’s something beautiful about being able to speak freely without having to face any kind of real world repercussions. Maybe that’s we’re now dealing with a pandemic of trolls...
There have been “secret confession” sites for years. Today, there’s a healthy plethora of them. There’s DailyConfession.com, PostSecret, FreshConfession.com, and more. It’s fun to air your dirty laundry anonymously to the Internet and read other people’s dark secrets. That could be why mobile secret-sharing app Whisper has exploded in popularity. The company announced Thursday evening that it has raised $3 million in Series A funding from Lightspeed Venture Partners, with help from Trinity Ventures, Flixster CEO Joe Greenstein, and Shoedazzle founder Brian Lee.
Reportedly igniting fights on high school campuses across the country, the viral Whisper app has sparked quite a bit of controversy. For example, while the point of the app is anonymity, you can see posts from “nearby” users. And users can privately message one another if they’re willing to pay a monthly subscription fee.
There’s also the problem of questionable content. Fellow secret-sharing platform PostSecret launched an app of its own back in September 2011, but pulled it from the App Store just three months later when inappropriate content ran out of control.
But Whisper seems to be weeding out the trolls and abusers by making users pay to interact with one another. It’s only $6 a month, but still. That’s how Ireland clamped down on litterers.
Launched in May 2012, the app has already garnered more than one million users and saw more than one billion page views in March. Some eight million secrets have been shared on the app altogether with users sending 800,000 private messages.
Engagement is particularly impressive. Users tend to open the app six times per day on average, and they tend to spend 30 minutes each day reading the content.
The company couldn’t be reached for comment, but CEO Michael Heyward told Business Insider that the point of Whisper was to create a more authentic social experience. The problem with most social networks is that users are responsible for what they post, which makes them more likely to keep up a socially acceptable front. But for younger users, this can create "a really distorted view of what's going on with their peers.”
Personally, I’m of the opinion that the world already overshares on the Internet. Case-in-point: a friend of mine had a baby and kept everyone updated on her dilation and effacement. Some things are better kept secret.