Share Secrets on New Social Network

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Secret is the latest social media site to garner buzz. It’s different from Facebook or Twitter because you post anonymously to a pool of people gathered from your contact list, or linked through a series of friends-of-friends. You may ponder, “How is it social to post anonymously?” The hot new app is a like a social media masquerade ball and fans insist that the anonymity allows them to be more themselves than when they have to “face” their fellow users.

Anyone who’s used Facebook or Twitter has likely censored themselves at some point or another. By the time you gather a social pool of a few hundred “friends” including relatives, co-workers and neighbors, it becomes apparent that a too-honest observation or comment can step on some real-world feelings.

Many wish they could be more honest about what they think, or engage in more heated political or social debates, but instead post mostly bland, non-confrontational updates. After scrolling through another post about your nephew’s haircut and “the cutest cat video ever,” the rare current event opinion link is tempting to respond to. But most of us defer or comment with a watered-down version of our actual opinion. Sometimes it’d be nice to engage in a real, honest debate without worrying about Aunt Vera disavowing you for your scandalous ways.

Better yet, wouldn’t it be nice to be able to post your actual thoughts without fear of social repercussions? If your co-worker’s cologne makes you nauseous or you think you’ll scratch your eyes out if your best friend shows you another wedding dress, it might be rather cathartic to be able to spill your secrets without someone you otherwise like being hurt. Or perhaps you’re too shy or embarrassed to post about a secret crush or your dream to sing opera, but anonymity would allow you to get it off your chest and maybe even get some encouragement or feedback you’d otherwise miss out on.

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Secret, a free app for iPhone, aims to offer users an outlet to “talk” honestly with their social pool, without having to worry about real-world repercussions. Upon downloading the app, it scans your cell phone’s contact list and creates a feed populated with posts labelled only as “friend” or “friend of friend.” You can also scan popular secrets from around the world, labelled only with their geographical origin.

Anonymous posting sites are gaining in popularity. From Whisper, an app that allows users to post anonymous “confessions” to everyone on the network, to Social Number where users are identified only by a number, the search for anonymity on the Internet is on the rise. Secret is different in that you are still interacting with people you know (however removed), you just don’t know exactly who.

Creators Chrys Bader ad David Byttow claim that the intent of the site is to foster creativity and sharing of ideas. Their experience working on traditional social media sites (the both worked at Google+, among others, before launching the site) led them to believe that the only way an average person would feel comfortable posting private thoughts is if they could be free of the fear that the post could follow them forever.

In reality, early adopters have discovered that Secret provides a gossip-laden feed that many find addictive and often voyeuristic. Posts about clandestine hook-ups, industry rumors, or scandalous social commentary will leave you wondering, “Who said that? Is it true?” The knowledge that secrets in your feed have originated from your social network, but without knowing exactly who posted them, make them all the more scintillating.

One surprising trend: many of the secrets aren’t actually true. The anonymity of the site allows people to post unsubstantiated rumors or completely fabricated encounters, safe in the knowledge that they can sit back and watch the tumult ensue without suffering any personal repercussions.

Critics point to the flood of negativity, malicious posts and cyber-bullying that led to the downfall of the anonymous messaging site PostSecret in 2012, drawing similarities in the more mean-spirited secrets and rumors that have risen in popularity on the site. However, creators have vowed to remain aggressive about removing flagged content, aiming to create an environment where users can be themselves and say what they mean, without being a jerk about it. Only time will tell if the site is able to stay ahead of its users less pleasant proclivities.

Want to join in the sharing of secrets? Download the free app through Apple’s app store, or visit the Secret website (https://www.secret.ly/) and enter your phone number to be emailed a download link.

About The Author: Andrea Andrea Eldridge is CEO and co-founder of Nerds On Call, a computer repair company that specializes in on-site and online service for homes and businesses. Andrea is the writer of a weekly column, Nerd Chick Adventures in The Record Searchlight. She prepares TV segments for and appears regularly on CBS, CW and FOX on shows such as Good Day Sacramento, More Good Day Portland, and CBS 13 News, offering viewers technology and lifestyle tips. See Andrea in action at callnerds.com/andrea/.