Thanks to US teens and the power of Snapchat, anonymous messaging app Sarahah is officially a viral hit.
The app, which lets users send and receive anonymous feedback, has reached 95 million registered users, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.
Sarahah’s biggest market is now the US.
Sarahah was built by Saudi programmer Zain al-Abidin Tawfiq and is named after the Arabic word for frankness or candor. It launched in early February but started climbing the App Store charts in July.
But Sarahah wasn’t originally meant for teens. Tawfiq told the Journal that he built Sarahah as an office tool for giving your coworkers anonymous feedback. In Arab cultures in particular, Tawfiq told the Journal, an emphasis on respect can hinder people from sharing their opinion in the workplace.
The same concept resonated with American teens, apparently, since the app quickly skyrocketed to No. 1 among the App Store’s top free apps this past summer. The US is now Sarahah’s most popular iPhone market, while India is the app’s most popular Android market, according to the Journal.
Since Sarahah lets you share your user name with others in the form of a hyperlink, US users began adding it to their Snapchat accounts to get more feedback, which likely increased the app’s visibility and popularity.
But the app ran into the same trouble early on that has plagued other anonymous apps like Yik Yak: bullying. Within a few days of Sarahah’s rise in US popularity, many users began calling it a “breeding ground” for hateful comments. The anonymous nature of the app means there aren’t necessarily repercussions for saying cruel things to other users, although the Journal reports that Sarahah has now added tools for filtering out or blocking those who use the app to bully others.
While the initial spike in Sarahah’s popularity has died down, the app is still going strong: Sarahah is currently No. 40 in the App Store’s top free apps chart and No. 7 among top social networking apps.
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