Anonymously confessing one's deepest, darkest secrets is the latest
trend at US schools, thanks to a mobile application that critics say
could create a dangerous online environment that fosters bullying and
Whisper describes itself as "a mobile social network where
you can anonymously share your inner-most thoughts on all topics
family, love, sex and sexuality, drugs, coming of age, dreams, joy and
After choosing a photo that can be enhanced using
filters, users write a text displayed over the photo and share it with
other users who can comment anonymously on the post.
"I secretly hate football. I don't get it. I've been faking it this whole time. I'm a guy," one user wrote.
of the posts are humourous, while others are more serious in tone and
address subjects such as sexual fantasies, depression and suicide, as
well as stories of sexual abuse.
The crude nature of some of the
posts prompted law enforcement officials in Kilgore, Texas, to post a
notice on Facebook warning parents about the potential dangers of the
"Content is posted anonymously and therein lays the
problem with the app," the Kilgore police department wrote on its
"With anonymous posts come bullying, harassment and inappropriate content being posted."
Conley, a psychotherapist based in Washington, D.C., who works with
young people, said the anonymous nature of the site is disturbing.
Suicide is the second-leading cause of death among college students, Conley noted.
is a double-edged sword. While it empowers people, giving them the
confidence to express their feelings, it would be horrible and tragic if
bullying or encouragement of negative behavior led to suicide."
has employees at several college campuses, including the University of
Texas, who are responsible for promoting the app, monitoring the feed
and deleting inappropriate content, according to the company.
some students have expressed concern over the amount of secrets posted
in an apparent cry for help that fail to receive productive responses.
of the problems is that it's difficult to know how to offer assistance
to someone calling for help on an anonymous social media platform,"
Patrick St. Pierre wrote in the Daily Texan, the university's student
Whisper's developers have now attempted to fill that void with a new mental health resource called Your Voice.
now you've probably seen Whisper users talk about issues that can
sometimes be deeply troubling in their lives, things you would never
want to post on your usual social network," Whisper's developers wrote
in a blog post.
"Your Voice wants to help those people and locate resources they may need."