Secret protects the gossipers, not the gossiped about

"The only safeguards Secret had in place at launch were ones which protect those posting secrets."

Internet Culture

Published Mar 18, 2014   Updated May 31, 2021, 3:02 pm CDT


When Secret launched with its customary Techcrunch press release, one of its founders apparently described it like so:

He said that the point was to share things you wouldn’t otherwise attach to your name.

As anybody who has used the Internet for longer than five seconds will tell you: This is a dangerous road to go down. One that will require careful thought, a good deal of empathy, and safeguards for the kind of people who usually find themselves on the receiving end of “things you wouldn’t otherwise attach to your name.” Say, grossly misogynistic insults about coworkers, for example. The presence of Alexis Ohanian, one of Reddit’s co-founders, as an investor was a hopeful sign: We’ve all seen the kind of dross Reddit encourages.

It was surprising, then, that the only safeguards Secret had in place at launch were ones which protect those posting secrets. Don’t worry: You are guaranteed absolute anonymity no matter what you post. Secret told Horvath they would remove the secret in question. According to her tweet, they did not.

It took more than a month for Secret to implement any kind of disincentive to bullying — and it came only after Julie Ann Horvath was pushed to quitting her job at Github. The solution was detection of first names in secrets, the use of which would prompt a dialogue cautioning the poster against defamation. It doesn’t, of course, prevent the user from continuing with their secret.

The most recent fuck you is the addition of shareable URLs attached to each Secret — it’s as simple as swiping left! In its post, TechCrunch said that “what makes Secret stand out is that you’re communicating primarily with friends.” No longer is that true.

What makes Secret stand out now is its open existence as a platform for bullies, the victims of which its founders and investors don’t give a fuck about, having made only the most cursory of attempts to ward them off.

Questioned by Paul Carr on Twitter, Garry Tan, another investor, said “give the Secret team a chance to build it at scale.”

“What would you tell those being defamed while we give the Secret team a chance to scale?” asked Paul.

Absolutely nothing, apparently. Tan didn’t even bother replying.

This article was originally featured on Medium and republished with permission. You can find the original here

Photo via Carl Nenzén Lovén/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
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*First Published: Mar 18, 2014, 7:13 pm CDT