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Whispers, secrets and lies? Anonymity apps rise

March 24, 2014 • Business


David Byttow, left, and Chrys Bader-Wechseler, are photographed Sunday, March 9, 2014 at the South By Southwest Interactive festival in Austin, Texas. Byttow and Bader-Wechseler co-founded Secret, a new app that lets people share anonymous posts with their friends and friends of friends. (AP Photo/Barbara Ortutay)

NEW YORK (AP) — At a time when Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are pushing people to put forward their most polished, put-together selves, a new class of mobile applications aims for a bit more honesty.

Among the latest is Secret, created by two former Google engineers who were looking for a way to let people deliver genuine feedback to co-workers. With the app, friends and friends of friends can share their deepest and darkest thoughts, along with gossip, criticism and even plans to propose marriage, under a cloak of near-anonymity.

“This idea that you have to craft this perfect image online,” says Secret’s 30-year-old co-founder Chrys Bader-Wechseler. “That’s stressful. We want to remove that stress.”

Secret joins a handful of apps such as Confide, Whisper and Yik Yak that have become popular — and in some cases, notorious — in recent months, by offering users a way to communicate while cloaking their identities.

What happens when people are free to say what they want without a name and profile photo attached? It’s an experiment in human nature that harkens back to the early days of the Web, when faceless masses with made-up nicknames ruled chat rooms and online message boards.

In the past decade, anonymity has been fading. As Facebook soared to dominate online social networks, the trend shifted toward profiles, real names and the melding of online and offline identities. But as people’s online social circles grew from friends to parents, grandparents, in-laws, colleagues and bosses, many became Login to read more

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