This app wants you to confess your secrets in blurred videos

Want to compound the implications of social confession apps? Just add video.

Mar 2, 2020, 1:11 am*

Tech

 

Taylor Hatmaker

You’ve Snapchatted all of your potential FOMO moments and relayed the rest to Secret, so now what? Lo and behold, Awkward gives you a sliver of anonymish space that you can cram the remainder of your undigitized life-parts into. 

Obviously, this sort of thing is already possible and practiced on YouTube and other video-sharing platforms. But Awkward, available on iOS, rolls anonymity, video and confession-style sharing into a single serving app all its own. 

Awkward screengrab
 

Considering that it’s version 1.1.1, Awkward’s user interface is pretty slick and the built-in blurring tool is clever. But beyond the UI, things start to get, well, awkward. We’ve not run across anything alarming yet, but the implications of a video confession app are obvious and even more glaring than text-based secret sharing apps where users regularly confide soul-crushingly sad thoughts. Add video and things can get really uncomfortable.


 

At launch, Awkward offers a little “flag” button for posts that its users deem flaggable, though nothing in the app seems to explain what’s flag-worthy. 

It’s hard to imagine how this wave of supposedly anonymous apps can keep things under wraps when things go beyond awkward and get real. As the Wall Street Journal notes in a report investigating how Secret, Whisper, and Ask.fm handle user privacy:

“All that data help these apps carry your secrets to relevant people, online friends or nameless supporters who may be nearby. But make no mistake: Though all three apps peddle anonymity, they collect enough information to build profiles about each user.”

Sure, Awkward doesn’t allow comments yet—only upvotes. But as soon a social network gets serious about engagement, the features start parading out.

What happens when someone confesses that they’re thinking about taking their own life? Or when someone confesses to a crime? Imagine if the Trevor Project or other suicide prevention resources could drum up a fraction of the funding that trendy social novelty apps generate in their early stages time and time again. 

Adding a layer of built-in mental health resources could make a literal life and death difference to Awkward and its ilk. Launching without those considerations, shiny as your app may be, feels negligent at best.

H/T Product Hunt | Photo by Ke7dbx/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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*First Published: Jul 16, 2014, 12:47 pm