Sarahah was built on the premise that people are more willing, to be honest when their messages are anonymized, and it's become particularly popular in Arab-speaking regions and also among English-speaking teenagers.
Development for the social network started back in November 2016, when it was still a simple website and didn't have an app. Its creator, who has a degree in computer science, wanted to get into app development when he came up with the idea.
His original vision for Sarahah, which means "frankness" or "honesty" in Arabic, was to create a tool that would help employees provide unfiltered feedback to their employers.
"There's an issue in the workplace people need to communicate frankly to their bosses," said Tawfiq, who works full-time as a business systems analyst at an oil company in Saudi Arabia.
Tawfiq quickly realized that the service could be useful outside of corporate settings. Friends might want to anonymously provide constructive feedback to each other as well.
So in the fall of 2016, he launched the website and began sharing it with his group of friends. "There was something special about it," he said. "My ultimate goal was 1,000 messages."
But by the end of the year, he only reached a couple of hundred messages and decided to try a new approach. Inspired by the so-called "connectors" in Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point (essentially, people who know everyone), Tawfiq decided to share the app with a friend who he considered to be a major influencer.