Austin-based mobile developer Bearch has received $2.1 million in funding for Unseen, its anonymous photo-sharing app for college students on iOS and Android devices. As students are told to keep their Facebook, Twitter and other social media accounts “clean,” in case a potential employer were to view those profiles, the app aims to provide students with a safe haven for expressing themselves in a more authentic way.
With Unseen, users browse to find their college campus, but only a selection of colleges are supported as of this writing. This includes campuses like the Universities of Texas, Kansas and Florida, as well as Harvard. The app will expand to more than 150 campuses by the end of August.
Users post content anonymously, from images to text thoughts, and can post comments on other students’ posts. Like Reddit, the app also allows users to vote up or down on posts they like or dislike. Students are identified by usernames, and the app offers randomly generated usernames for those who want them. While users can browse content from any school, they can only interact with content posted on their own campus.
While Unseen does require users to agree to a long list of content rules before signing up, which prohibit them from posting sexually explicit, illegal or otherwise “objectionable” content (among others), the app’s developers don’t believe it’s up to them to determine what is ultimately appropriate or not. Therefore, the app’s moderation team does pull down content it feels violates the app’s terms of service, but at the same time, the app’s goal isn’t to create a “fictitious” version of life by overly censoring users.
“College is a period of our lives that is filled with new experiences and making tough decisions,” said Michael Schramm, CEO of Unseen, in a company statement. “Unseen provides a new way to find and connect with others facing similar challenges and struggles in a safe, anonymous way. Social media today is inherently inauthentic and a glossy version of who we really are. We are creating a new, social way for students to be themselves and make meaningful connections.”
Unseen isn’t the first anonymous social network aimed at college students. Yik Yak, for instance, raised $1.5 million in April 2014 for its anonymous social messaging platform for college campuses.