Blog

Anonymous Sharing

By Univision Team
Jan 14, 2015

What’s the Trend:
An increase in the existence and usage of anonymous sharing apps in response to what some are calling identity fatigue: the oversharing and masked portrayal of one’s life that occurs via social networks.(1)  It is also a backlash to the increased access various institutions have to one’s personal information.(2)

What’s New:
New apps such as Whisper, Secret, Yik Yak and Omegle that keep the user’s identity anonymous have been popping up as the latest trend on the social scene. They tend to skew younger and provide an environment for the “random, silly, and saucy sides of the average teenager.”(3)  There is a revival of anonymity on the internet in response to the “undiscriminating publicness” of sites like Facebook which link everything –from an article read, a purchase made, a song listened to –to one single identity for everyone to see. Anonymous sharing is also a reaction to the perfect-life portrayal associated with various social media accounts.(4)  Thus, anonymous sharing can be cathartic, returning to people the freedom of expression without the restraint of being judged by a friend or having a parent or prospective employer view ones personal thoughts.

Neetzan Zimmerman, Whisper’s editor in chief describes the app as a “pulse of what young people are feeling and sharing whether it be a social movement, pop culture trend, news event, personal struggle or daily musing.”(5)  These apps have the potential to grow into an unprecedented news source. Whisper has inspired Buzzfeed articles such as its “17 Confessions From British Teachers On Whisper” and “23 Confessions That Prove Being a Feminist Is a Complicated Identity.” Recently, Whisper has collaborated with the TV network Fusion as a source for ideas/trends to include in their broadcast stories. In one article, Fusion analyzed 5,000 Whisper posts from zip codes associated with party colleges to find out how students talk about drugs.(6)

Twitter and Facebook early on in their lives struck up image-boosting media partnerships with mainstream networks, similar to the aforementioned partnership between Whisper and Fusion. This made be a significant indication of the future for Whisper and other apps.(7)  Another strong indication of this is Facebook’s announcement that it is preparing to launch a standalone app allowing users to anonymously interact. This is very telling about the future of anonymous sharing if Facebook is looking to join the cohort of apps, as Facebook was the single-identity pioneer in social networking and steadfast about its real name policy.(8)

Why it Matters:
As heavy users of social media and early adopters of technology, it is likely that Hispanic Millennials, like their non-Hispanic counterparts, are active users of anonymous sharing apps. Whisper’s current manifestation, as “a pulse,” could prove to be very useful in the adoption of these apps as a listening post to monitor what younger cohorts are thinking at a given time or what a certain geographical location is saying about a recent event.

Susan Kresnicka, Anthropologist with the brand consultancy and creative agency Troika, sees the future of such anonymous sharing apps beginning to subdivide and form around “social identities – ethnicity, race, sexual orientation, gender, etc., as so much of the sharing involves the negotiation of the self vis-à-vis sociocultural norms.” This would provide an even deeper opportunity to monitor conversations around particular identities.(9)

However, as definitive data is lacking specific to Hispanic and Hispanic Millennial usage of such apps, it is important for brands to research and explore this area deeper in relation to this population. Further insight could identify opportunities to create Spanish language anonymous sharing outlets that tailor to the Hispanic market’s needs and desires.

References:

  1. McDermott, John. (2014, June). “Can anonymity app Whisper become a viable news source?” DigiDay. http://digiday.com/platforms/can-anonymity-app-whisper-become-viable-news-source/.
  2. Sitver, Michael. (2014, August). “The Next Big Tech Trend: America Goes Secret.” The App Store Chronicle. http://www.appstorechronicle.com/2014/08/anonymous-technology-hot.html.
  3. Schryver, Kelly. (2014, October). “Snapchat and 6 Other Messaging Apps That Let Teens Share (Iffy) Secrets.” Common Sense Media. https://www.commonsensemedia.org/blog/snapchat-and-6-other-messaging-apps-that-let-teens-share-iffy-secrets.
  4. Burkeman, Oliver. (2014, June). “Do the new anonymous social media apps encourage us to overshare?” The Guardian. http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/jun/07/anonymous-social-media-apps-encourage-overshare.
  5. Dave, Paresh. (2014, June). “Secrets shared on Whisper’s app become fodder for new TV network.” LA Times. http://www.latimes.com/business/technology/la-fi-tn-whisper-fusion-deal-20140623-story.html.
  6. Dubbin, Andy and Fidel Martinez. (2014, June). “How Do Students at Top Party Schools Talk About Drugs?” Fusion. http://fusion.net/story/6002/how-do-students-at-top-party-schools-talk-about-drugs/.
  7. Dave, Paresh. (2014, June). “Secrets shared on Whisper’s app become fodder for new TV network.” LA Times. http://www.latimes.com/business/technology/la-fi-tn-whisper-fusion-deal-20140623-story.html.
  8. Bell, Karissa. (2014, October). “Report: Facebook Readying App for Anonymous Sharing.” Mashable. http://mashable.com/2014/10/07/facebook-readying-anonymous-app/.
  9. Kresnicka, Susan. Anthropologist at Troika, Brand Consulting & Creative Agency. Comments on December 16, 2014.

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