Shane BarnhillSunday,4 August 2013

The Snap:

Eric Schmidt — Google’s current Executive Chairman and former CEO — once famously suggested that young people would be well-advised to change their names later in life, in order to avoid the shame of their online pasts. While the practicality of Schmidt’s idea was largely derided by bloggers and the press at the time, his underlying idea — that young people would seek out mechanisms for evading the permanence of Google search — has proved valid, and is manifest in ephemeral messaging apps such as Snapchat. In contrast to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram — which are all likely to be searchable in 10 years — the impermanence of Snapchats help both younger and older users to avoid the prying eyes of Google searchers. Very few people, if any, will ever be denied a chance to interview for a job because of Snapchat.

The Download:

Of course, other apps beyond Snapchat bear watching due to their ability to tap into this demand for transient and/or untraceable messaging. Two in particular that have gained traction lately are Whisper and Rando. I’ll cover the former below, while the latter will be the subject of my next post.

So, on to Whisper. The Whisper app enables the sharing of secrets in the form of text over images, and all posts — called “whispers” — are anonymous. While real names are not revealed, users can “Heart” (the equivalent of a Facebook “Like”) and comment on whispers. Many whispers are user confessions; a quick scan through the app reveals messages from people who are planning to leave spouses, quit jobs, or come out of the closet. But Whisper has a darker side. The app is filled with cries for help, notes about chemical dependence, and suicidal thoughts. Many people reveal their deepest fears within Whisper, in hopes that someone will anonymously comment back with helpful words.

Furthermore, Whisper is clearly serving as a pickup joint, and that’s where the app’s location element comes into play. Whispers are sorted into four categories: Featured, Latest, Popular and Nearby. Posts in the latter category include location ranges, such as “Less than 10 miles” or “Less than 25 miles.” Many whispers are inquires about secret hookups; users can message each other and then presumably meet up in person.

While Whisper is definitely a bit seedy, it’s also refreshingly cathartic. I have used the app during a few moments of frustration as a substitute for the type of “rage Tweeting” that tends to get people in trouble on Twitter. While my thoughts were relatively innocuous (I’m no Alect Baldwin), I still didn’t want them permanently recorded for discovery by co-workers and family members. However, Whisper does provide options for sharing to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, Email and SMS. This gives users an option to expose not only their own secrets, but also the whispers of other (anonymous) users. It also serves as an option to go “full Baldwin,” which is a curious given the design and focus of the app.

Whisper already has millions of users, generates billions of “page views” within the app each month, and has raised $3 million in Series A funding. The app is available for both iOS and Android devices, so you may want to check it out the next time you need to park a secret somewhere.

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Hat Tips:

PandoDaily, ReadWrite, TechCrunchImage Credit: Flickr


  1. […] Whisper is an app that taps into demand for transient and/or untraceable messaging. In this way, it has an appeal similar to Snapchat. Read more on The Snap Download… […]

  2. […] I wrote about a trend toward transient and/or untraceable messaging, of which apps such Snapchat and Whisper are a part. […]

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