Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Goodbye Secret, victim of its own success

Rando was an app from a while ago that I really enjoyed. You could send a picture to a stranger and he or she could send one back. You could only see the location. Apps like these are (anti)social experiments that are almost never meant to last, either because the user base isn’t large enough or the things they’re sharing are too… personal.

I respect the people who create these apps, often without a clear business model, but benefiting from the controversy that draws media attention. Yet it appears tough to not have it work against you as it is what draws people in, but it also might make them want to leave.

Unfortunately, now Secret is the victim of its own controversy. Rando and Secret took a different approach. Rando limited the user and could be called anti-social and because of its smaller user base I never encountered a picture that I turned away from. These users enjoyed the concept. It’s no secret that anonymity brings out the worst in people. It’s for that reason Google decided to use real names in YouTube comments a while ago. So a place without obvious rules, although not meant for it, is a troll’s heaven. However I do believe that with a smaller, more devoted audience, like with Rando, Secret could have been the place its creators wanted it to be.

Over 15 million people used Secret. That’s no small number and as far as I know it was still very popular. But who wants to work on a product that not at all represents the vision you had when the adventure started?

I hope this doesn’t mean the end of controversial apps. Perhaps someone will sometime be able to find the right balance. In the end, the app itself didn’t do much wrong. The people who used it made it what it was.

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