Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Facebook Teases Anonymous App. What Would That Look Like?

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Facebook Teases Anonymous App. What Would That Look Like?

Article excerpt

Facebook is working on an app that will give users the ability to post online under a pseudonym, according to a report from The New York Times.

Additionally, tweets from Josh Miller, a product manager at Facebook, strongly suggest that the company is developing an app or a platform that would give users the ability to post updates pseudonymously.

"You could stay anonymous to other users, but Facebook login on the back-end could track the jerks and keep them out," says Josh Costine for TechCrunch, a technology news outlet. "Powered by its anti-thesis, Facebook could unlock the potential of anonymity to let people open up and be vulnerable."

But if Facebook's business depends on monetizing its users' data, why would the company promote a new way for its audience to hand over less information?

"It will encourage use, and that's what drives Facebook," says Scott Strawn, an analyst at IDC, a global research firm. "If you have situations where you can have people engage, you'll have more revenue."

It has the potential to go further than a gossip mill -- the platform could have political ramifications.

"It's not a game-changer," says Mr. Strawn. "It could be meaningful for a small population, especially for people who live in countries where speech might be limited."

The app could prove useful to areas under civil unrest, such as Hong Kong, where Firechat, a decentralized messaging app, has became popular.

The idea of an anonymous platform itself isn't novel though. Apps such as Secret, Whisper, and Yik Yak have been filling in the anonymous social niche in different ways. Secret capitalizes on sharing anonymous updates within a group of friends. Whisper allows users to post images and text anonymously in their own network of friends. And Yik Yak leverages your geographical location to make a completely anonymous local bulletin board. …

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