Anonymity undoes the PostSecret iPhone app

PostSecret, the website where people submit their secrets on post cards to be posted online anonymously, released an app for the iPhone that allowed people to anonymously submit secrets from their phones. With the app designed to keep secrets anonymous, it found it had no way to prevent abuse. A few bad apples ruined it for the rest, as described in the PostSecret blog post today.

It pains me to announce that the PostSecret App is now closed. In some ways, this is because of its success. It reached the top-selling spot in the App Store and users shared over 2 million creative secrets.

Like the PostSecret Blog, the App was designed so each secret was absolutely anonymous. Unfortunately, that absolute anonymity made it very challenging to permanently remove determined users with malicious intent.

99% of the secrets created were in the spirit of PostSecret. Unfortunately, the scale of secrets was so large that even 1% of bad content was overwhelming for our dedicated team of volunteer moderators who worked 24 hours a day 7 days a week removing content that was not just pornographic but also gruesome and at times threatening.

Bad content caused users to complain to me, Apple and the FBI. I was contacted by law enforcement about bad content on the App. Threats were made against users, moderators and my family. (Two specific threats were made that I am unable to talk about). As much as we tried, we were unable to maintain a bully-free environment. Weeks ago I had to remove the App from my daughter’s phone.

Anonymity, what PostSecret is built on, also served to be its undoing.

Categories : Software
Posted by Jason Hamilton | January 1, 2012  |  No Comment

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