February 8, 2018
Social Media App Parental Advice
What it is:
“Sarahah is a social networking app for providing anonymous feedback.” Sarahah is an Arabic word meaning ‘honesty’ and the app was originally created by a Saudi programmer as a way for employees within a company to share honest, anonymous opinions about one another (and to compliment their bosses). It has since become a freely downloadable app which is used across the globe. It became the number one downloaded app in the Android and Apple app stores during the middle of 2017, although it currently only appears to be available for Android devices in the UK.
How it works:
Once a user has downloaded the app and created an account, they are given a link which they can post on other social media. They can also link Snapchat and Facebook to their Saharah account so that the link is always available to see for contacts using these social media platforms. Anyone using a Saharah link can send anonymous text-only messages to the user, which are then displayed via the app on the recipient’s device. Anybody with the app can also search for any other registered user and send them messages if they know that recipient’s username. All the recipient sees is the text message displayed on a plain screen with no option to reply, share the message, or identify the sender. Messages received via Sarahah can only be shared with other people electronically by taking screenshots within the app. A user can select a ‘block’ option to prevent further messages from a particular sender, but at no point can they see who that sender actually is.
The areas for concern are fairly self-explanatory given the information above, although there have been quite a few negative stories in the media with specific regard to the app being used for anonymous bullying. One security researcher has also discovered that when the app is installed, it periodically uploads the device’s entire contacts library to an external server, including all email addresses and phone numbers. I’ve included a few links to some of those articles below.