ShareWhere -- confess to nearby strangers (you know you want to)
The latest secrets-focused app believes it's different -- because you share your most stunning secrets anonymously with other users who are physically near you.
Bless me, Father. For I have drunk 15 beers last night and said things that I don't remember. Some of them might be on a secret-sharing app.
Please don't tell anyone, but I have my suspicions about secret-baring apps like Secret and Whisper.
Their creators might tell you it's all about allowing people to express themselves fully without consequence. But they also seem to be the repository of occasionally strategic character assassination and other devious intentions.
Brazil, for example, has a law against this kind of thing and has ordered Apple to remove Secret from its store.
Still, this isn't going to stop more app creators from glomming on to the notion of secrets and finding their own twist.
One is an iOS app called ShareWhere. Its cheery kink is that you can share your secrets with anyone who's physically near you.
In its creators' words: "ShareWhere users share pictures and/or text from specific locations, confess what's on their minds, expose dirty little secrets, even submit anonymous location reviews. Nearby users can react to each post by commenting and direct messaging each other for extra juicy details."
We're never satisfied by juicy anymore. We need extra juicy or we can't taste any juice at all.
Then there's the opportunity for graffiti: "ShareWhere is the first app to explore a new age of digital graffiti, where people virtually tag locations with stories, memories, and secrets vs. scrawling over bathroom walls and carving signatures into subway seats."
Yes, this is a secret-sharing app that positively bathes in social responsibility and might even threaten Banksy's career.
But is it really as anonymous as it seems? As The Washington Post reports, another secrets-focused app, Secret, isn't quite as secret as one might think. It doesn't mean that you're untraceable, just that you haven't daubed your name in lights.
So I asked ShareWhere CEO Geoffrey Chan whether his creation is really anonymous. He told me: "The only thing that is asked for is an email address, so the user has a way to log in and log out as they please. We do not require any other personal information. If a 'secret' is posted that the authorities inquire about, we would assist in any manner that we are required to by law, but we would have no real personal information about the user to offer them."
Some might not be so sure about that. Nothing online is entirely without footprints, especially as governments and various corporations seem to be tracking us in real time, all the time.
Chan, though, believes the proliferation of anonymous apps is a reaction to Facebook and Instagram.
"On applications like those, you have family and friends who will be viewing your posts, which puts a lot of pressure to portray a perfect image that doesn't really exist," he said. "This is why anonymous apps are coming on so strong. That pressure and judgment is alleviated and you can just be yourself. I don't think they attract a worse crowd, you are just seeing much more honest communication that one does not typically see on traditional social sharing platforms."
Honestly, I'm not so convinced about honest communication. Every time someone tells me they're "brutally honest" and asks me to be the same, I discover that they're not really fond of brutal honesty at all.
Are people really themselves on these apps? Or are they merely some different, less palatable version of themselves?
Chan insists ShareWhere is constantly monitored. But that monitoring is highly subjective. He told me: "We constantly monitor the content that is shared on our application. We are a bit less strict with what we allow, but anything we find to be overly offensive or obscene is immediately removed."
He also told me: "Salaciousness certainly sells to some degree, but we believe the truthful expressions and candid responses are what really attract our users."
"Truth sells," sounds so much less convincing than "salaciousness sells."
There are currently no plans for this app to make money. However, Chan believes that it will help fight digital isolation.
"Sharing secrets is closely tied to combating feelings of isolation all people experience in today's digital age. Combing anonymous confessions with close proximity brings communities closer together," he told me.
Chan graduated from the University of Florida and worked in IT before creating his app. ShareWhere has been beta-tested in Florida and is now rolling out nationally.
Will it create more community? Or will its attempted disruption be merely disruptive to local peace?
And will local police forces be avid participants, learning so much about what's going on in their neighborhoods, while sipping coffee at Starbucks?
Oh, the secret, anonymous possibilities.