Sarahah

Sarahah logo

Sarahah is a Saudi Arabian social networking service for providing constructive feedback. In Arabic, Sarahah means "frankness" or "honesty". It was created by Zain-Alabdin Tawfiq at the end of 2016 and reached a sudden worldwide success by mid-2017. This growth is considered to be deeply related to the release of a Snapchat update that allowed people to share URLs on their snaps.

Quick Fact

Summary

  • Ranked #45,636th worldwide
  • Active users 14 M
  • Type Anonymous Networks
  • Launched date Nov 2016
  • Employees 14
  • Headquarters Jeddah, Makkah, Saudi Arabia
  • Parent company None

Founders

person
Zain-Alabdin Tawfiq

Networks

  • Brand value In 2020 N/A
  • Revenue in 2020 $1.5 M
  • Net loss In 2020 N/A

Overview

OverviewOverview. (via androidauthority.com)

Sarahah started out as an anonymous messaging service. It was launched in Nov 2016 as a website created by Saudi Arabian developer Zain al-Abidin Tawfiq. Initially, the idea behind Sarahah was a good one. It was supposed to give workers a way to give honest opinions about their company to their bosses without the threat of being fired. In fact, the name Sarahah means “honesty” in Arabic.

Later, Tawfiq expanded the reach of Sarahah beyond the workplace. He updated the site so people could allow their friends and acquaintances to send anonymous texts, and once again let them send feedback to a person without ruining friendships. Once a user registers, they can give the Sarahah link to their friends or post it publicly online.

The Sarahah website became popular in the first half 0f 2017 in the Middle East and Africa. On Jue 13, 2017, the service launched its mobile app for iOS and Android in the U.S., as well as other countries.

In Jul 2017 another social networking app, Snapchat, added a new feature called Paperclip. It allowed users to insert links to Snapchat Stories and snaps. Since Snapchat is highly popular among teenagers in the U.S., they quickly started posting Sarahah links to their Stories. This caused the Sarahah mobile app to became a huge hit (even though the service says it is just for people 17 years of age and over), and later in July 2017, it was among the most popular free apps on the iOS AppStore and the Google Play Store in the U.S.

Sarahah Was Removed From Google Play And IOS App Store

Sarahah Was Removed From Google Play And IOS App StoreSarahah was removed from Google Play and iOS App Store.

(via androidauthority.com)

The straw that broke the back of Sarahah’s mobile app seems to have been an online petition on the Change.org website. It was begun in Jan 2018 by Katrina Collins, a mother from Australia who said her 13-year-old daughter had received harassing messages via Sarahah. Collins pointed out that both Google Play and App Store have policies banning apps promoting bullying, and wondered why Sarahah was still available to download. She urged people to put pressure on Apple and Google to get Sarahah and other apps like it banned from those download stores.

The Change.org petition quickly generated over 400,000 online “signatures.” In late Feb 2018, the petition worked, as both Apple and Google removed the Sarahah app from its stores (neither Apple nor Google would officially comment on the decision). For his part, Tawfiq told the BBC the decision to shut down the iOS and Android apps was “unfortunate.” He tried to put on a brave face, stating he hoped that the company would come to a “favorable understanding” with Apple and Google. However, the Sarahah app currently is still not available on either storefront.

Original Idea

original ideaoriginal idea

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.

Brief History

2007
Jun Sarahah was released on the US Apple App Store, and also had users in several other countries including Canada, India, and Lebanon.
Jul An update was released by Snapchat.

It was among the most popular free apps on the iOS AppStore and the Google Play Store in the U.S.

Aug It was reported that the Sarahah mobile app quietly uploads the user's address book to its web servers.
2018
Jan It was reported that a woman in Queensland, Australia had started a petition to have the app.
Feb Katrina posted a message declaring success, saying that both Apple and Google had removed the app from their stores.

Network Features

Messaging App

Messaging App
																Messaging app. (via indianexpress.com)

This is not a regular messaging app, and other than sending random anonymous messages to people it doesn’t offer much. The tabs on the app are limited to Messages, Search, Explore, and Profile. All received, sent and favorite messages appear in the ‘Messages’ tab. When you receive a message you can favorite it or block the user or even report it. Though what happens after you report a message is unclear.

The ‘Favorite’ tab shows messages where you have tapped the heart symbol. Sent shows all the ‘constructive’ criticism you have been sending on the app. Meanwhile ‘Search’ tab lets you search for people to send them anonymous messages. Next up, there’s an ‘Explore’ tab that isn’t live yet. “SOON. This feature will be available next update, be alert!” reads the page. We’re not sure what the developers plan to do with this.

Finally, the ‘Profile’ page lets you manage your profile. It shows a user’s profile picture along with Sarahah's username, and a number of messages received.

The Privacy Options

The Privacy Options
																The privacy options. (via indianexpress.com)

Sarahah is perfect territory for cyberbullying. The problem is that avoiding some of the hate on the app is not easy. You can report a message, block users but what happens to those who send abusive messages is unclear.

Further, you can go in the settings and disable the option to ‘Appear in search’. Another setting ensures that non-registered users can’t message you on the app. The big problem is there’s no way of knowing who’s sent you a message.

The app shows four icons below each message – a red flag to report message, block icon, reply, and a heart icon to mark the message as favorite. Don’t mistake the reply button for actually replying to the person, who sent you the message. Reply, for some weird reason, lets you forward a message to friends via social media platforms such as Facebook, Messenger, Snapchat, WhatsApp, and more.

Sarahah offers limited setting options as of now. While there’s an option to Logout of the app, we couldn’t find one to delete an account on the app itself. To delete the account, you have to log into the website version of the messaging service and go to settings to remove accounts.

Where Sarahah’s privacy policy goes, the company says they won’t disclose the identity of the logged-in senders to users, except with their consent. So yes, if someone starts sending hateful messages or threats on the app, there’s no way of knowing their identity.

Source

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