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[素材 ] 关于Whisper  

2014-02-20 17:49:16|  分类: 默认分类 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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It’s being said that the preference pendulum in social media culture is swinging back from transparency (as in Facebook) to anonymity (as in Whisper). And the growing popularity of the Whisper app – where users’ posts are Internet meme-style photos overlaid with text (the app makes posting easy by offering up photos it “thinks” match your text, and you get to pick one). People can respond by “heart-ing” (as with a “Like” on Facebook) or commenting on your secret.

Though there may not be a lot of buzz about it among people over 25, it’s “already popular among high-school and college students across the country,” reports New York Magazine, and “is quickly becoming the most interesting social network around.” Its makers won’t publish its user numbers but did tell reporter Kevin Roose that Whisper’s users post secrets at the rate of 20 per second at peak times, and the app gets 3 billion+ pageviews a month – more “than LinkedIn, WordPress, and Upworthy combined.” The demographics are more interesting: 70% of users are female and 90% “between ages 18 and 24,” which Roose suggests is why there’s a lot of “adolescent angst” and a true-confessions element, the darkside of which is “confessions of cheating, cutting, and other subversive behaviors” (though sometimes, when confessions are  cries for help, this exposure can actually lead to help). But the reporter says he’s also found plenty of “happy Whispers, idealistic Whispers, angry political Whispers, and Whispers about sports.”

Anonymity’s downside

Another downside of anonymity, of course – as on Reddit, Ask.fm and other services built squarely on anonymity (but also with mainly positive or neutral content) – is the potential for anonymous bullying or trolling wherever vulnerability is on display. It’s always a good policy to ask your kids if they or kids at their school use a particular site and, if so, what their experience of it is. If people are using it to be mean, ask if they’ll think about either leaving or helping to make the experience better for themselves and their peers. If they look at you funny, you can state the fact that this is user-driven media, so users have as much of a role in how positive or negative the experience is as the companies that provide it.

Whisper says anonymity allows for more honesty, and that’s true. People can be themselves more, show off less, post what they really feel (positive or negative), rather than what makes them look good for the make-or-break reputation mill that social media had come to mean to a lot of people. Sharing disappearing photos and videos, as in Snapchat, is known to be a response to self-presentation fatigue (see this).

Performance pressure

But Roose says “there is still a pressure to perform. Users who want their posts to be popular will be tempted to embellish their own secrets, or appropriate someone else’s.” That’s partly because the app increasingly promotes the most popular posts, so some users work hard to post secrets that’ll go “viral,” sometimes making them up or taking advantage of other people’s creativity.

“There’s no system of social checks to keep fabricators at bay,” Roose adds. He’s talking about social norms – a key element of safety in social media and one that social apps and services who care about users’ safety and community goodwill will work at fostering more and more. If they’re smart, these apps and services will “crowd-source” safety – figure out how to create and maintain a sense of community or belonging for users so that – just as in great neighborhoods in offline life – people don’t just rely on “the cops” but watch out for each other too (see this). This is the shared, participatory safety of social media, which includes a sense of belonging to and stakeholdership in the wellbeing of the community as a whole and every member of it.

 

 


Inside the Angsty, Affirming World of Whisper

·         By Kevin Roose

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At my high school, most real online communication happened between private blogs. Between classes, my friends and I set up password-protected Livejournals, on which we'd spill our gossip about crushes, breakups, and other teenage scandals. There were blogs whose authors were known and kept under wraps (friends were given the passwords), and other, public ones that remained anonymous. It was a fairly advanced private social network for the pre-Facebook era, but what I remember most vividly about the Livejournals were the breaches: The girl who forgot to log out on a library computer and had her secrets spilled involuntarily, the couple whose fights became public, the teacher who patrolled the network for evidence of rule-breaking. It was a high-risk, high-reward disclosure system, and anonymity was never quite guaranteed.

We didn't know it then, but what we needed was Whisper, the quietly popular app that is updating confessionals for the iPhone age.

If you're older than 25, you may not have heard of Whisper. But the app — already popular among high-school and college students across the country — is quickly becoming the most interesting social network around. It allows people to post anonymous Whispers (photos with a line or two of text overlaid on them, in the style of a Reddit image macro) which can then be "hearted" or replied to by other users. Users can view popular Whispers, Whispers with a common keyword, or Whispers posted from a nearby location.

Whisper doesn't give out information on the number of users it has. But the app gets more page views per month – over 3 billion, according to the company – than LinkedIn, Wordpress, and Upworthy combined. Page views are an imperfect marker of popularity, but there's no doubt that the site has become one of the biggest depositories of content anywhere on the Internet. During peak hours, Whisper gets twenty submissions per second.

Opening Whisper for the first time can feel like traveling back to an earlier, more primitive version of the Internet. For years on the web, anonymity was the default mode. Then, the rise of Facebook gave way to the single-identity Internet, in which people were forced to use their real names to post blog comments, listen to music on Spotify, and do all manner of Internet tasks. The de-anonymization of the Internet was a boon for opponents of cyber-bullying and other dangerous behaviors, but it also created a performative impulse. Now, with our names attached to the things we do online, we curate vainly, posting and tagging only what makes us look good, and removing what doesn't. Whisper is one of the organizations trying to reclaim the transparency that anonymity can breed.

"It’s like a pendulum shift," Whisper co-founder and CEO Michael Heyward told me. "People are cognizant of their digital footprint, and as they see things like Whisper and Snapchat and Bitcoin, they like that it's culturally anonymous."

Most of the coverage of Whisper so far has labeled it a spruced-up clone of PostSecret, the mail-art project and blog that introduced the world to secret-sharing for a mass audience. It's true that many of the Whispers being posted are the kinds of things you'd find in PostSecret – confessions of cheating, cutting, and other subversive behaviors. But many aren't. When I first created an account and logged in to the app, I found happy Whispers, idealistic Whispers, angry political Whispers, and Whispers about sports. Seven out of ten Whisper users are female, and nine in ten are between ages 18 and 24, which is why it can often feel like being inside a high-school confessional booth.(Although Whisper requires new users to certify that they are 18 or older, the app also has a number of features – like a four-digit PIN that is required in order to view your own Whispers – that are seemingly designed to thwart snooping parents.) But if they're willing to sort through the adolescent angst, adults can find content for them there, too.

The downside of an anonymous social network — aside from the potential for bullying, which Whisper's dozens of moderators are supposed to stave off — is that it's impossible to fact-check.Of the many Whispers posted every day, it's possible that a significant number are fake or embellished. But that barely seems to bother Whisper users, who have gotten used to the app's post-truth environment and are more interested in how a given Whisper makes them feelthan whether it's literally true. 

Heyward, who is 26, says that one benefit of Whisper's anonymity is that it allows formore honest communication – that, by removing the fear of repercussions and embarrassment, Whisper users can close the gap between the selves they create online and who they really are. And it's true that, unlike on Facebook and Instagram — where people announce engagements but never divorces, and where people always seem to be putting on a show for their friends — Whisper appears more in line with reality. It's also an affirming place, a place where outcasts can feel less marginalized, where people with obscure interests and experiences can find out that they're not alone.

"The Internet’s supposed to connect everybody, but you can feel disconnected," Heyward says. "It can feel like, 'Why’s everyone always partying or on vacation?'"

Last month, Whisper took one of the biggest steps in its history by hiring Neetzan Zimmerman, a ferociously talented Gawker writer, to serve as its editor-in-chief. Zimmerman, whom The Wall Street Journal said "may be the most popular blogger working on the Web today," is an expert at identifying content that is in the process of going viral, and disseminating it more widely. (His posts for Gawker routinely made him the site's most trafficked writer by a factor of twenty.) Whisper has never had an editorial team, but the site's popularity and growth won Zimmerman over.

"I asked him, 'Do you want to keep writing headlines? Or do you want to come over here and change the world?'" Heyward says.

At Whisper, Heyward says, Zimmerman and his team will be tasked with making sure the best Whispers are featured inside the app, in addition to finding more ways to share "Whispers outside of Whisper." This could mean overseeing the creation of an API to allow Whispers to be embedded on third-party sites, or partnering with other sites to drive more users to Whisper. Opening itself up is one of Whisper's strategies for growth; another is putting advertisements on Whisper, which Heyward says will likely happen "at some point." The site is still running through the millions of dollars in venture capital it's raised (it closed a $21 million funding round last year, valuing it at $76 million), and Heyward seems to be in no hurry to flip the revenue switch.

"I don’t think there’s ever been a business on the Internet that hasn’t made money when they assemble a huge number of users," he says.

I became one of those users last week, when I decided to spend a few days trying out Whisper. I created an account, chose a nickname, and began looking around. Heyward says he has seen deep interactions unfold on Whisper – couples meeting and falling in love, suicidal teens helping each other out of the abyss – but most of what I saw was more frivolous.

"I dominated my bf for the first time last nite. I loved switching roles for a change n it seemed to really turn him on too"

"I have tickets to Justin Timberlake but I can't go anymore"

"I'm with another guy but I'm in love with my ex still"

"I think all guns should be banned"

"One day I'm gonna go sky diving :)"

Whisper is easy to use: Start typing your secret, and the app displays a series of photos that match your subject. And eventually, despite my reservations (is this thing really anonymous?), I decided to take the leap and post my own.

I posted two Whispers – one a real secret from my life, and the other a made-up concoction, designed to get as large a response as possible. It read, "My wife wants me to get a job. She doesn't know I'm a Bitcoin millionaire." 

I posted both and waited. Several minutes later, the first (real) submission hadn't gotten any hearts or replies, while the second (fake) submission was accumulating them like mad.

I've heard from other Whisper users that the app rewards fakery by letting obviously false submissions in. (On the front page the other day: "I've been a dinosaur for 4 years, I've never told my friends or family because I'm afraid they won't talk to me anymore.") But mistaking fiction for fact isn't really the issue with Whisper. The issue is that, despite the site's guarantee of anonymity, there is still a pressure to perform. Users who want their posts to be popular will be tempted to embellish their own secrets, or appropriate someone else's. (The day after my Bitcoin post, I saw a nearly identical post on the front page.) And there's no system of social checks to keep fabricators at bay.

But, if you can get past the phonies and posturing, there is a point to Whisper. Put simply, it's a place to unload baggage without consequences. Unlike on Facebook or Twitter, nobody will fire, judge, or humiliate me because of what I post there. And while I might not keep using Whisper routinely, it doesn't hurt to think about what benefits a little more anonymity might bring.

 

 

Even if Millennials’ younger siblings in Generation Z were all mini-Anthony Weiners, we’d never have a clue how many naughty selfies they’re sending after SAT class. That’s because these web-bred munchkins are actually shaping up to be way more cautious online than Millennials.

New research shows that Generation Z favors anonymous or self-destructing social media over  more permanent and identifiable identities on Facebook or Twitter, and they’re voting with their feet; some studies estimate that over 11 million young people have left Facebook since 2011. So before we know it, our ubiquitous digital footprints may look like more like dinosaur tracks.

And it’s not just about Snapchat, the blockbuster app that allows us to send an image and have it disappear seconds after the recipient views it.  A whole slew of new apps and platforms,  fueled by their popularity among teens, are capitalizing on the impulse to share content without the curse of permanence. Blink lets users  share self-destructing texts and pictures with groups, Skim erases texts as you read them, and BurnNote messages can only be viewed a few words at a time. And some apps, like Whisper, go even further by guaranteeing that content can never be traced back to the user, because the user is completely anonymous.

Generation Z  isn’t  buying the notion that our online profiles are almost historical records of our online identities that must be fueled by a constant stream of comments.  The Cassandra Report, released by  the Intelligence Group, a consumer insight and research company, found that 55% of post-millennial respondents said they don’t like things that last forever online, and another 55% said they’d rather be anonymous than vocal. And 76% said they thought other people shared too much.

Jamie Gutfreund, Chief Strategy Officer of the Intelligence Group, said that teens are increasingly aware of the hazards of over-posting partly because their parents often shared pictures and updates on their childhoods without their consent. “When kids are born in the last 10 years, they have no control over the amount of information that’s available about them online,” she said. “The younger they are, the more aware they are of the value of their information.” And that  self-consciousness seems to be growing as the kids get older — the 2013 Cassandra report found that 18% of teens say they share a lot about themselves online, down from 24% in the 2012 report.

MORE: Are You Guilty of “Oversharenting?”

But opting out of the overshare culture isn’t just about self-preservation, it’s also about emotional sanity.  Implicit bragging on Instagram and Facebook causes FOMO, or fear-of-missing-out on whatever party, vacation, or Coachella road trip one’s friends appear to be enjoying. Dr. Dan Ariely, who teaches psychology and behavioral economics at Duke, says that FOMO is caused by fixating on what could have been. “Imagine whether you’d be more upset if you missed your flight by two minutes or two hours,” he said. “People say two minutes. Why? Because it could have been you who made the flight. Instead you’re stuck at O’Hare.”

Whisper founder Michael Heyward says that older social networks like Facebook and Instagram inadvertently reinforce the idea that someone, somewhere, is having more fun than you. “Facebook is a human highlight reel — people at parties, with friends, on vacation, looking awesome all the time,” he said. “This shiny, manicured view of the world was leaving my peer group with a distorted view of themselves and the world around them, asking “Why is everyone else’s life so fantastic?”

But Gutfreund says that Generation Z-ers are consciously trying to fight FOMO with a zen-like “JOMO,” or “joy-of-moving-on.” Young people are recognizing that “you can’t know everything, you can’t be everywhere, you can’t watch every TEDtalk,” and they’re getting over it. It’s part of a move away from a social network based on competition and performance, and towards one based on genuine shared experiences.

That’s what Heyward says Whisper is trying to do. The two-year old app is sometimes mislabeled a secret-sharing app, because all the users are totally anonymous and many people use it for public confession. But it’s really more like the anti-Facebook, trying to divorce the identity of its users from the content they post.

It’s like a social-networking version of PostSecret, the community-art project made of secrets scrawled on postcards, except that users can reply to each others’ secrets on Whisper, and reveal their identities if they want. The app is growing fast, with over 3 billion unique viewers a month and $24 million in funding over the course of 2013 alone. And it’s especially popular with young people; over half its users are under 24.

People tend to think of Whisper as an app for confessions, but it’s increasingly become just a way to post tweet-like observations without involving your real-life identity. Some Whispers are juicy secrets:


True, anonymity is nothing new in the online teen scene– just ask all the kids who have been bullied on Ask.fm, the site that lets users post questions and solicit anonymous answers. And while most of the posts seem like something you’d read on the wall of a locker room (lots of people confess that they’re gay or that they’ve cheated on their boyfriend, or both) some people see the potential for Whisper to grow into something more than angsty slumber party fodder.

One of those people is Neetzan Zimmerman. Known in the media world  as something of a traffic savant with an uncanny sense of what will generate human interest and rack up the clicks,  the Gawker blogger  attracted more unique visitors to the site than all his colleagues combined.   So when he left Gawker to  join Whisper earlier this month,  it was considered a huge vote of confidence for the startup.  Zimmerman thinks Whisper is onto something. “People are going to want to read this content, it’s fascinating content, and it’s addictive,” he said. “It’s like popcorn, people keep coming back to it.”

Let’s go back to it:

“It meets the demand for privacy and also the demand for a place to be yourself. And Whisper, by the fact that you’re completely anonymous, is both of those,” he said. “It promotes being yourself. Because it asks you to unload, to unvent. To put your real self on Whisper.”

And by “real self” this generation means an online self that doesn’t have a real name attached to it. Dr. Ariely says that the anonymity of an app like Whisper helps dilute the anxiety stirred up by other social apps, because users don’t compare themselves to one another in the same way. “For the fear of missing out, we need to think that we could have made it,” he said. “And when something is anonymous and not connected to us, we can’t imagine it could have been us because we don’t have the details.”

The trend towards anonymity and self-destructing texts will probably continue, because kids are never wrong in predicting the future (one second, let me just feed my Tamagachi). So I guess Millennial oldsters like me will one day gather together in a nursing home, pointing at our Instagrams with wrinkly fingers, scrolling through tweets in extra large font and shouting to each other, “who was Justine Sacco, again?”


The rise of Facebook FB +1.1% has made using a “real world” identity required in many parts of the Internet today.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckeberg’s mission to make the world more “open and connected” means that people increasing use their real identity to share photos, interact with others and buy things online. And some people are increasingly comfortable doing so. Many new mobile apps and new websites now use Facebook as a fast way to log-in and gather information about users.

Companies like Airbnb are using real identity on the Web to make sure users are safe when they travel to strangers’ homes. The Facebook verification is a key part of establishing trust for such sharing economy companies. Travelers can see that a user is a normal person, not, say, a psychopath. Airbnb has also gone beyond Facebook to add another layer of identity verification, wherein people have to upload a photo of their driver’s license or passport to be verified.

TigerText Secures (And Erases) Your Text Messages Tomio GeronContributor

Airbnb Adds Identity Verification To End Anonymity In Sharing Economy Tomio GeronContributor

In Less Than Two Years, Snapchat Is An $860 Million Company J.J. ColaoForbes Staff

While it increases transparency and safety and improves virality among new apps, the growth of this real-world identity in many aspects of online life is creating a quickly-growing opposite impulse. It’s an intriguing effect of Facebook that creates  two divergent social webs: one completely tied to real identity, and another that is completely anonymous.

Particularly among the younger demographic, people are looking for an anonymous way to interact with their peers, express themselves, talk about difficult subjects or just have fun. But they don’t want that activity to be attached to their name and be seen by friends and family, coworkers or potential employers, or be attached to their identity forever.

A quickly growing app, Whisper, launched May 2012 and offers an anonymous way for people to express secrets or other thoughts, which can be serious or funny. Los Angeles-based Whisper, even more than Snapchat (the ultra-hot app that just raised $60 million), is the anti-Facebook.

With Whisper, there is nothing attached to your name. But in other respects it looks like Instagram or Facebook. Its popularity is driven by its anonymity, according to Whisper cofounder Michael Heyward. The app has been on fire, with 1.8 billion page views in the app in the last month. Average users open the app six to eight time per day. The app has been downloaded about 2 million times.

“With all the social platforms–Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin–the core motivation there behind content publishing is ego and vanity,” says Heyward. “Let me show you the best version of me. Only the really good stuff. We felt there was big whitespace on the Web around giving people a place to share express themselves more freely. It’s the ability to share a lot of that content that they may not normally share.”

People create a Whisper by selecting an image from the app’s image library or uploading a photo and then writing a short thought. It could be something embarrassing that they don’t want their friends to know, like “I’m on the football team but I’m gay.” Or it could be an introspective thought that someone’s friends may not like, such as, “I secretly don’t like the fact that my friends are all getting married and turning into boring people.” Others on the app include: “My daughter doesn’t know that she’s not my biological child.”

The app’s popularity is driven by the authenticity of the messages. “People crave authenticity. They don’t connect anymore,” he says. ”Whereas on Facebook you compare yourself with my highlight reel. Here it’s all behind the scenes. There’s a shared experience.”

People can “like” (it’s a heart icon) the Whisper or reply publicly with a Whisper of their own. The community on Whisper is heavily engaged. Many of the popular Whispers get thousands of hearts. Users can also chat with the person privately (though again, identities are not revealed).

The chat functionality has been very popular, Heyward says. Each day there are millions of private messages sent. And 20% of messages started more than two weeks prior, which means people are engaging with others over a long period of time and getting to know them. And more than 80% of messages are within 20 miles, indicating that often people are chatting with others in the same community. (They can find Whispers that are nearby in the “Nearby” tab.)

“These shared secrets–that really resonates with a lot of people,” says Jeremy Liew, venture capitalist at Whisper investor Lightspeed Venture Partners, which also was an early investor in Snapchat. “These real conversations start to happen. It’s a new form of mobile social media that is quite antithetical to what Facebook stands for.”

In keeping with the anonymity, there are no profile pages on Whisper. You can only send a message to someone when they have created a Whisper. You can go back and chat with people you’ve chatted with before. But Whisper has intentionally made the app revolve around content, not around identity that profiles would entail.

Whisper, which raised $3 million in funding from Lightspeed Venture Partners and others, has been especially popular on college campuses, where the app pierces students’ perceptions that their friends’ lives are “perfect” and much better than their own, Heyward says.

In the early days of the Internet, anonymity ruled in chat rooms and message boards. It still has remained popular on sites like 4chan and Fmylife. (Indeed you could argue that the interest in an anonymous web has never disappeared. But it has become less popular amidst the growth of Facebook.) The early days of the Internet resulted in a largely negative connotation towards anonymity, but Heyward believes that is shifting as anonymity is coming back into fashion. The recent revelations about NSA monitoring of phone and Internet activity only increase concerns about privacy, he says. “Anonymity equalled trolls in peoples’ minds. Or someone coming after your kids in chat rooms,” he says. “Now it’s going back to anonymity.”

There are a number of spins on anonymous (or non-trackable) social apps that have grown in popularity recently. The most well-known example recently is Snapchat, the app that lets people send messages and photos that instantly disappear. While this isn’t anonymous–people send messages to friends–it has a similarity with Whisper in that Snapchat does not leave a record (with some exceptions) that can be tracked back to a person. Another app, Rando, lets people send a random photo to a random person and receive a photo back in exchange–all anonymously. The only thing the other person knows about you is the city you are in.

 

Whisper was spun out of TigerText, the disappearing text messaging service that has some similarities to Snapchat. Heyward previously worked there, and Brad Brooks, cofounder of Whisper, is cofounder and president of TigerText.

 

 

TigerText Secures (And Erases) Your Text Messages

Tomio GeronTomio Geron

Contributor

 

Airbnb Adds Identity Verification To End Anonymity In Sharing Economy

Tomio GeronTomio Geron

Contributor

 

In Less Than Two Years, Snapchat Is An $860 Million Company

J.J. ColaoJ.J. Colao

Forbes Staff

It’s also worth noting that Snapchat, Whisper and Tumblr all did not focus on Facebook integration–and all are located outside of Silicon Valley. Snapchat and Whisper are in Southern California and Tumblr is in New York. In Silicon Valley, developers generally see Facebook integration as a given. But outside of Silicon Valley developers may see things differently and build their apps appropriately.

 

 

LA-based Whisper hasn’t hit Silicon Valley tech circles yet, but it has taken college campuses by storm. The iOS app, which launched officially last November, now hosts millions of anonymous secrets uploaded by more than one million users. Those users open the app an average of six times a day and spend, on average, 30 minutes each day with it. Last month, the app hit a billion pageviews.

Whisper’s secrets are delivered in a meme-style format that transfixes Web surfers: text over image. Scrolling through Whisper’s feed of anonymous secrets can be a roller coaster of emotions from sad or thrilling to touching and funny — it’s a Post Secret for the mobile set. What’s more, users pay $5.99 a month to communicate directly with each other inside the app.

Whisper’s fast adoption caught the eye of Jeremy Liew of Lightspeed Venture Partners, who says Whisper has the same sort of engagement and retention that Snapchat had starting out. Lightspeed led Snapchat’s seed round last March; it’s since raised $13.5 million.

Similar to Snapchat, Whisper has a differentiator that Facebook can’t match: Where Snapchat has ephemeral messages, Facebook wants to be a permanent record. Where Whisper has anonymity, Facebook requires real identities. “So both can grow without worrying about Facebook coming in later to knock them off,” Liew says. (Facebook has tried to knock off Snapchat with Poke; it hasn’t really worked.)

Further, Whisper supports Lightspeed’s thesis around the “LOLcatization” of the Internet. LOLcats popularized the text over image format of content, which has since spawned entire companies devoted to this style of content. The text-over-image form factor is just irresistibly easy to consume and share in massive quantities. Liew noted that the most talked about Facebook pages, like Shut Up I’m Still TalkingOIESAMAMADA, or Jesus Daily (with 17 million likes), all post using this format.

This all explains why Lightspeed led Whisper’s just-closed $3 million round of funding. LA serial entrepreneur Brian Lee participated, as did Joe Greenstein, CEO of Flixster, John Hadl of US Venture Partners, and Trinity Ventures. Hadl helped co-founders Michael Heyward and Brad Brookes get the project started.

Heyward says the app was inspired by his college-aged sister, who complained that her friends’ lives were perfect but hers was not. He realized that she saw perfectly maintained versions of her friends’s lives on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram, and took them for reality. The appearance of a perfect life on social media can be crippling, particularly for a generation raised on it, and the number of scholarly articles connecting Facebook and jealousy suggest the issue is not insignificant. Heyward designed Whisper to let people take down the facade of perfection, anonymously, and just relate to one another. “You dont have to be this brand manager,” he says. “It’s exhausting.”

When Heyward noticed users trying to billboard supportive messages and contact info to each other within Whisper, he built in messaging functionality. Engagement skyrocketed. The decision to charge users for messaging was to keep spammy solicitation out, he says.

And users are wiling to pay. An impressive 800,000 paid messages are sent each day on the app. They cost 99 cents per conversation or $5.99 for a month of unlimited messaging. What’s more, 20 percent of those messages are related to a conversation that started two weeks ago, meaning users aren’t exchanging personal contact information and ditching the app the same way they would with a dating app. With its anonymity, Whisper has created a safe place that acts as a sort of mobile second life for people to confide in each other, Heyward says.

Of course, the app’s anonymity also makes it prone to abuse — the first review in the App Store calls it a “haven for racist, homophobes, xenophobes, sexist, misogynist, trolls and the superficial.” Users must be 17 years old to download the app, and the secrets are heavily moderated. As Business Insider noted, the original anonymous emo site, Post Secret pulled its own app after three months because of the number of inappropriate and malicious secrets shared.

But it speaks to the Web’s deep-down desire to stay anonymous, despite Facebook and peer-to-peer services emphasizing real names and reputations. The size and power of fiercely anonymous sites like Reddit tell us there will always be a place for anonymous Web interactions. Hell, the original emotion-based social network, The Experience Project, has 10 million users sharing their anonymous secrets.

Whisper is simply a mobile version of that. Post Secret sells books but considers itself to be an art project. The Experience Project operates as a non-profit. They haven’t tried to become big, scalable businesses by choice. Whisper discovered something they knew — that people want to emote together — as well as something they didn’t — that, given the right tools, people will happily pay to do it. And hey, six bucks a month is cheaper than therapy

 

 

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