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Trending app, Sarahah, has no chill

Anonymously dangerous
sarahah app sad man
Typical reaction to troll hate. Photo: Getty Images

What is Sarahah, and why is it out ranking all your favorite apps? Well, if you can anonymously tell people what you really think about them, for free, would you? Exactly. The app’s focus is to “get honest feedback from your co-workers and friends.” At least that’s what the website reads, which manifests the name “Sarahah” quite nicely considering its Arabic meaning is “honesty.” But, how honest is too honest? Since its release, Sarahah is successfully managing to both skyrocket and wreak havoc.  

Sarahah is fairly easy to navigate; users register an email, pick a username, then self-subject to a firing squad of criticism. It’s actually that straightforward. No home page, just a “Messages” tab displaying received, favorited and sent messages; a “Search” tab, allowing users to search for other users to message; a “Profile” page, enabling users to add a picture if they desire to and view stats of how many messages they have sent or received. Although the app’s format is user-friendly, that’s not to say the users are friendly.  

Making its App Store debut in June, the feedback-rifle remains to trend. But, before that, Sarahah has already marked its territory overseas; BBC notes that in its earliest weeks, the app had 270 million views and 20 million users. Also: 2.5 million users were in Egypt, 1.7 million in Tunisia and 1.2 million in Saudi Arabia, followed by massive audiences in Syria and Kuwait. It clearly didn’t take long for the Arab world to be enticed, and Saudi programmer Zain al-Abidin Tawfiq is to thank. However, that's pretty much all we know about Sarahah’s origin; for an app built on gossip, the website doesn’t have much to say -- prospective users must download the app to find out more. And, based on the reviews, Sarahah is certainly doing its job in generating chatter.  

The app is simple: Users can message but cannot reply. While there is a "favorite" option, there’s no filter for explicit content, and users are quite angry about it. More than half the ratings are just one star, so Sarahah’s getting more heat than the desert. One user says, on behalf of her son: “The site is a breeding ground for hate. ... Someone posted a horrible racist comment saying that he should be lynched.”   

Sarahah app angry review

One review is titled, “Suicide app.”  

“I’ve been harassed and bullied,” a user writes.  

One user even warns “do not download, for your safety.”   

And, as  “groundbreaking” as another user claims it is, Sarahah is not the first anonymous platform to exist. Yik Yak, Ask.fm and Formspring.me are all examples of sites with a similar concept. However, all have been shut down because of persistent cyberbullying purposes.