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Facebook, the purveyor of "real" identities, is interested in adding an anonymity element. 

Facebook has become what it is by leveraging your real name and identity, or at least the closest thing on the Internet to that. It’s the reason that so many websites let you login with your Facebook account, and why so many apps that rely on any real world interactions do the same.

The Internet has always made it easy for you to be anonymous, and Facebook was arguably the first network that was able to capitalize on the value of tying the you sitting behind a keyboard to the you walking around in the world.

But now, Facebook might be embracing anonymity.

According to Recode, Facebook is interested in becoming a part of the “secret” trend. Apps like Whisper, Secret, and their small but growing cadre have generated too much interest to ignore. Per Recode’s report:

The social networking giant has expressed interest in exploring how it can develop anonymity services. Secret, one of the latest buzzy social apps, has met with Facebook to discuss how the two companies can work together, according to people familiar with the matter … Rumors of a $100 million offer from Facebook to buy Secret that reverberated through Silicon Valley this week were shot down by two people familiar with the social networking giant’s plans.

But just because a Secret acquisition didn’t happen doesn’t mean Facebook won’t buy its way into this genre. There are a variety of smaller services out there that do the same thing (more or less) that could be easier to snatch up: YikYak, Confide, and Wut are just a few examples.

Facebook has a rich history of playing catch-up to social media fad apps. It made its own Instagram competitor (and then bought Instagram); it made its own Snapchat competitor (and then tried to buy Snapchat); it bought out Foursquare competitor Gowalla (back when Foursquare was experiencing its peak popularity); it gobbled up WhatsApp as private messaging apps saw their usage surging.

It’s another indication that Facebook, once the trendsetter, is now on the other side of things. Of course the difference is it has billions of dollars it can invest in trying to be a part of those things (even if those things might only temporarily hold our interest).

Still, it’s a confusing idea: The company that has made its reputation off of creating and supplying others with our reputations is interested in offering us a slice of anonymity. It’s completely antithetical to Facebook’s purpose… but when has that ever stopped a multibillion company from pursuing an opportunity? 

H/T Recode | Photo via Wikimedia; remix by Molly McHugh

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