Anonymous Social Media Overview, Part Three: The Whisper Controversy & Beyond


I had said in Part Two of this series that I was waiting to talk about the Whisper Controversy because it was still unfolding so dramatically. Things are starting to wind down, and so last night I put together a Storify mapping out my perspective of the timeline of how this has all been happening.

Briefly, Whisper was trying to do a good thing, but it seemed to go wrong.
Guardian called them out on issues related to privacy & user tracking.
Story exploded.
Whisper defended themselves (mostly via Editor-in-Chief).
More explosions.
Guardian gleefully expanded on their original story.
Yada yada.
Whisper tries to regain trust (mostly via CEO).
Editorial team “laid off” pending investigation.
And now the clean up work starts.

Check the Storify for more details and specifics.

Meanwhile, Whisper is not alone. Far from it! Snapchat was hacked. Snapchat is probably the most famous anonymous social media app right now. Before they were hacked, all sorts of people were making tools (1, 2, 3) to “break” Snapchat’s rules about keeping copies of deleted pictures without permission. (The same sort of thing is happening on other ‘anonymous’ social platforms, like Tumblr with KnowAnon. And people posted private sex tapes on YikYak, which is also infamous for cyberbullying and violence and threats.) And the Federal Trade Commission is investigating some of the problems with Snapchat. People still trust and use Snapchat. And there are apps designed explicitly to, well, invade your privacy on an opt-in basis, like PeekInToo. This post has focused on the privacy issues, but violence, dishonesty, and cyberbullying remain significant issues in many online spaces. So, that’s the bad news. In the next post, I’ll look at some of the good things being done with social media.

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