These days, when every status update, tweet and photo you share seems to have a real-world consequence, everyone is looking for a little anonymity online.
Perhaps that explains all the buzz around a week-old iPhone app called Secret, which allows you to read and post anonymous messages (“secrets”) to your circle of friends.
This idea is not entirely new. An app called Whisper already allows users to anonymously share messages with an audience of people nearby. Secret sets itself apart with its simple design and the more intimate community it allows you to share with. Whereas Whisper distributes your posts based on current location, Secret accesses your contact list to create an anonymous feed of your friends. It mixes in posts from other locations, based on their popularity. Every time a friend of yours shares a secret, you’ll receive a notification, though you won’t know who the secret-sharer is.
Personally, I can’t take my eyes off of it. Try for yourself.
Here’s how to use it:
1. Download the app here.
2. Open it.
3. You’ll be greeted with this screen. Tap the Sign Up button.
4. Enter your email address and phone number. Then create a password. You’re probably wondering if the information you provide is safe. The short answer: It’s as safe as your email (which, you know, can sometimes get hacked). The long answer is in co-founder David Byttow’s post on Medium.
5. Secret, like all other apps that want to be the center of your attention, would like to send you push notifications — little text-message-like bubbles that inform you of new activity on the app. Maybe decline, so you can test out the app first and see if you like it. You can always enable them later if you so desire.
(A side note: As a frequent Whisperer, I am voyeuristically tickled whenever I get a push notification that someone has “Whispered in my area.” So much better than a CNN news update.)
6. Now here comes the scary part. Secret will ask you to Find Friends.It does this by accessing your contacts and discovering who among them has signed up for Secret. It’ll give you a little warning to assure you that your data is safe and that no one will get spammed. You’ll have to take the risk if you want to try the app, so tap OK.
7. Meanwhile, you’ll receive a text message and an email from Secret asking you to confirm your identity.
8. Back in the app, you’ll be taken to the personal feed that Secret has compiled based on your contacts. At the bottom of each post, you’ll see the location where it was posted, how many people have commented on it, and how many people have liked it. If you heart a post, it will spread to your friends. If your friends like it, it will spread to theirs. A secret is marked with a star when it racks up enough hearts.
9. If you’d like to comment on a post, tap the speech bubble. The thread will expand from the bottom of the post. Whenever you choose to comment, you’ll be assigned a random (cute!) icon. It will remain consistent throughout the thread. The author of the post will be assigned a crown icon. If the Secret isn’t from within your friend circle, you won’t be able to comment.
10. You can post from your feed by tapping the pen on the upper-right corner of the screen.
11. Yay, it’s finally time to share your deepest, darkest secret. Did you steal your co-worker’s lunch the other day? That’s a good one. Maybe you slept with your best friend’s husband. Even better (uh, sort of). The possibilities here are endless.
Once you write down your message, you can swipe right to choose a fancy background color (choices include aquamarine and cobalt). If you’d like to upload a photo as the background, then tap the camera icon.
I’m going to take this opportunity to air a personal complaint: Jason O’Gilbert, my editor, reeks of Doritos. It’s distracting and inappropriate for the workplace.
12. If you have second thoughts about revealing your secret, then you can delete it by tapping the three dots at the bottom of your post.
13. To monitor the activity on your posts, tap the menu icon on the upper-left side of the screen. (This is also where you can invite friends to join.)
It’s as simple as that! So go, be free, tell the world your secrets. If you need me, I’ll be crossing my fingers, hoping this awesome app doesn’t get hacked, and that my editor stops eating so many Doritos.
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