App review: Sarahah

What is Sarahah?

Available on both Google Play and the App Store, Sarahah (pronounced ‘Sarah-ah’) has grown in popularity since its release in June 2017.

Sarahah is primarily a communications app. It’s free and shows no adverts.

Who is Sarahah suitable for?

Sarahah make no reference to minimum ages within their Terms and Conditions documents, but Apple rate it as a 17+ app.

How is Sarahah used?

Sarahah is used to communicate. Signed in users can find other users by searching for their names or usernames; from there, messages can be easily sent and these appear on a ‘Received’ page within the app. All messages that are sent are done so anonymously, meaning that unless they are signed, there’s no way of knowing who sent them. The anonymous nature of the app means that users can’t just simply reply to each other’s messages.

After signing up, each user is given a personalised link; this link can then be shared and it allows anyone with access to it to message or provide feedback to that user anonymously (unless the app’s default privacy settings are changed.) This means that non-signed in users can message Sarahah users. Some users add their Sarahah personalised links to their other social networking profiles for easy access.

What about privacy?

Users have the ability to control whether they appear when searched for and they can also stop non-registered users from messaging them.

The default privacy settings are as follows:

Users have a profile and this can contain a picture and a full name.

What are the online safety considerations?

One of Sarahah’s taglines is: ‘Get honest feedback from your coworkers and friends’. The app is designed to allow users to send critical feedback to and be honest with their friends. This kind of system, where anonymous messages can very easily be sent, could lead to cyber bullying or trolling.

Users can report messages that they dislike, but there’s no explanation as to what happens to reported messages.

There’s also no word or phrase filter in operation, meaning that messages with offensive words in them are delivered successfully.

As the system is so open, it could easily be exploited by advertisers looking to reach wide audiences.