A New Reason For Parents To Worry: Whisper

By Mary C. Long 

Screen Shot 2014-01-28 at 10.23.48 AMIf you want to anonymously share a secret, you could mail it to PostSecret. You would be practically untraceable — nobody would know where you were from, and other than a postmark and your handwriting, nobody would have any data on you (or use that data for advertising).

But if you want to add some danger and immediacy into the mix, there’s an app you can use instead: Whisper.

And while Whisper offers to instantly relieve you of your secrets, the price you’re paying is your privacy. And, potentially, your safety.

Whispers are all moderated by staff or computers, so abusive or inappropriate content can be removed — we’re guessing they don’t want to end up with a reputation like Ask.fm, or the PostSecret app which was discontinued in 2012 after only three months running. Users were posting offensive and pornographic content, and despite attempts at pre-screening posts, it became too much for the small team.

So what makes Whisper any different?

Well, probably not that much.

Whisper seems to have set its sights on becoming a Twitter competitor. But we think people online are too narcissistic to share anything beyond dark secrets this way. They won’t break news, for example, as they’d lose out on the 15 seconds of fame they’d get on Twitter for doing so.

But what users WILL do are things they wouldn’t normally.

Whisper is the kind of app that’s popular with teenagers, and that comes with its own set of problems. There will be secrets about self-harm and eating disorders (which, thankfully, Whisper is doing something about). But it still helps emotionally vulnerable kids turn themselves into targets.

Beyond calls for sex, there were several users trying to buy drugs (apparently using the “nearby” option), which is REALLY stupid as any illegal activity can be easily traced (you downloaded the app, remember?).

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Oh and talking to strangers is big here too.

How do people talk here? They use the “direct message” option. Fun, right? Yeah, we bet all sorts of unsavory types are flocking to the app as we type. Imagine the replies this kid is getting, for example:

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Parents should be pretty terrified.

What do you think? Is Whisper something you’d be happy with your kids using? Better check their phones to make sure they’re not! And would you ever consider using it yourself?