Sarahah Debate: Controversial social media app emerges and gains popularity

Views 31 | Time to read: 3 minutes | Uploaded: 10 - 4 - 2017 | By: Emily Mosher

What are the kids into these days? The most obvious answer is social media. The industry is booming, as new imaginative apps emerge every couple of months. Noticeably, there is a continuous cycle of these apps. There are several versions of one type of app that emerge, become widely popular, and then fade out; this cycle repeats over and over as the apps continue to “up the ante” every time.

One of the latest additions to this cycle is Sarahah. Similar to past apps such as Yik Yak, Secret, and Whisper, it is a messaging app which provides a podium for anonymous comments and constructive criticism. Offered on Google Play and App Store, it has been rapidly trending for months. Though the website Sarahah was created in February, it was reconstructed into a mobile app and released June 13, 2017.

Many adults and even some teens may find themselves thinking, what in the world is Sarahah? The app’s creator, Saudi Arabian-developer Zain al-Abidin Tawfiq, describes it as an app which will “enhance your areas of strength,” and “improve your friendship[s] by discovering your strengths and areas for improvement.” Naturally, it requires your name, email, username, and password. Once registered, users are free to post anonymous comments on their friends, coworkers, and perhaps even long-time enemies’ accounts.

This, as you can imagine, can create a few issues as there is no limit to what users can and cannot say. Fittingly, the word Sarahah is an Arabic term for honesty. While honesty can be a good thing, many users are abusing the power of anonymity. Cyber-bullying has surfaced, and users are receiving anonymous comments that are extremely hurtful or offensive; it is an all-too-easy platform for bullying. As a wide range of ages are using the app, this has the potential to become destructive, especially to younger users. Although positive comments are beneficially uplifting, flattering, and encouraging, the negative comments are a controversial topic of discussion.

The intentions of creator Tawfiq are not necessarily being criticized, but the detrimental potential of Sarahah is certainly debatable. While perhaps some people find it relieving or thrilling to say what they need to say, the receivers of negative comments are often left feeling hurt, offended, and confused as to who wrote them. Westmont student Noah Argao comments on the subject: “It’s really unfortunate that Sarahah became prominent in this time and age since our generation is so obsessed with appearances. This is an outlet for them to put others down and try to make themselves feel better.”
Another frequently criticized aspect of Sarahah is that users don’t know who posted positive and encouraging comments. They often post on Instagram or Snapchat asking who commented, desperate to know who said what. Interestingly, however, before posting the users electronically cross out the negative comments, and show only the positive ones. This is becoming a trend within a trend, and Instagram and Snapchat users are reportedly annoyed with how often Sarahah posts show up on their feed. The rave of Sarahah is controversial, though incredibly popular. It could turn out to be an app that lasts as long as Facebook, or become a one-time trend that eventually completely fades out. Either way, if you’re going to download Sarahah, prepare yourself to realize what people think of you.


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