Social media secrecy: not always a good thing

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Social media is constantly evolving and while it has opened up the lines of communication across the globe, it has also inadvertently stopped some individuals from voicing opinions in fear of social backlash or ‘trolling’.

However, a new range of smartphone apps is set to turn this around, yielding both positive and negative results.

Two of these apps are fittingly titled Whisper and Secret, while the third is called Yik Yak. They allow users to anonymously share brief thoughts and images across the globe, negating the fear of personal backlash for any controversial opinions voiced.

This has led to a wave of humorous posts, public tantrums and general contemplative thoughts, all with the anonymity associated with the apps. It has allowed people to express themselves free of judgement, whatever their opinions might be.

However, as with many new social media channels, people have found a way to abuse the platforms, opening people up to potential bullying and personalised attacks, with minimal repercussions for the perpetrators.

Much like many of the apps out there now, all three of these ask to use your current location, in turn allowing you to view content from users close to your area. In a small place like Tasmania, this can have damaging and long lasting consequences as we all tend to know one another, or a friend of a friend and so on.

For example, if something derogatory, embarrassing or offensive was said about an individual there are limited means to find out who posted it. These anonymous messages, if seen by the person or other people in similar social circles, could have a long-lasting psychological effect.

Out of the three, Secret is the least likely place for this to occur, as your feed is filled with many popular posts and not flooded with local ones. However, both Whisper and Yik Yak can pinpoint your location and feed you content from locations near you, or even trending local hastags.

The creators of some of these apps have come out to say that the age limit required to access these apps should negate against this anti-social behaviour, but whether this is an adequate protection method has come into question.

For the majority of people it’s a case of ‘out of sight, out of mind’, but as more and more apps such as these are released, it is incredibly important for people in the community, especially parents, to understand them and how they work.

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