UPDATE: ‘Twas A Hoax. Your Editor Aplogizes / Is Mortified.

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UPDATE: Apparently the “AP” article was a hoax! Thanks to our commenters for pointing that out. The original link now leads to this Inquisitr article So sorry, guys!


Twelve Formspring.me employees were arrested this week after an email revealed that the site is, in fact, a “social experiment” that planned to reveal the identities of its anonymous users sometime next month. For those who are not familiar with Formspring, the site is designed allow users to post questions anonymously for friends or strangers to answer via their accounts.

Formspring CEO Mark Baxter, who was among those arrested, had initially told the press that the site stored users’ personal information “for legal purposes.” However, in an email to a friend, Baxter revealed that “[i]n less than a month we’ll be adding the name, email, and facebook account of each user next to all of their anonymous posts.”

Another friend of Baxter’s told the AP that he had been fascinated by the concept behind Facebook’s “Honesty Box,” a feature that allowed users to anonymously post what they “really thought” about their online friends:

He was using that Facebook application, Honesty Box, and he got some real nasty stuff over it. So he said to me, “Wouldn’t it be great if someone made something like this, then showed everyone’s names one day?”

While the site’s terms of conditions claim that conditions can be altered at any time with continued use of the site signaling user consent, the terms did not reveal to users that those who visit the site while logged into their Facebook accounts — even without registering for Formspring — may have their account information (name and Facebok profile URL) snatched and stored.

The moral of the story? Honesty isn’t such a great policy without absolute transparency.