What Are Anonymous Applications
The desire to hide one’s identity or express any opinion without specifying authorship was born a long time ago. There was the site Just A Tip back in the 90s. There was a possibility to send anonymous tips to other users.The system was not perfect, of course – these tips were sent as anonymous emails, and it was possible even to get feedback.
In a word, the popularity of anonymous applications is based on this desire to hide user’s identity.
Types of Applications
Anonymous mobile applications started gaining popularity in 2013-2014. According to Facebook’s research, most users chose anonymous apps because of its size – no extra services – and because of privacy risks. Also, a part of these anonymous applications does not require users to create a user profile.
Sites like English-language 4chan and Japanese 2channel provide an anonymity without any kind of account, but users can still be tracked through their IP address. Of course, different anonymizing services can encrypt this parameter too.
So what kind of anonymous apps exist? Here is a brief list:
• Private social network apps
• Anonymous confessions apps
• Anonymous social sharing apps
• Anonymous chats apps
Read also: Social Network App Development
Let’s consider them in detail. What are the nuances worth paying attention to when creating this kind of apps? What questions do you need to find answers on during the mobile development process?
Private Social Network Applications
To answer the question “How to make an anonymous social network app?” in general, we need to consider several points:
1. Will there be a need or the possibility to create an account in the application? For what purpose?
First, there is a question of the degree of anonymity. For example, many blogs like LiveJournal do not require user’s personal data, and all you need is email and nickname. There are e-mail services that do not require personal data such as a phone number, and you can use any name and surname. So some of the apps require registration, but all content is published anonymously, and the data is used only for advertising.
Second, registration is a possibility to avoid cyber-bullying and to monetize the app – for example, to connect purchases of any extensions and additions (sticker packs for chats, more storage for user’s content or even opportunity to use some kinds of this content like animated pictures or video) to a specific user.
And third, some sort of registration can allow you to give your users to see a history of their activity, maybe to edit or delete their posts and so on. This information can be stored locally on the device, for example.
2. Some private social network applications allow users to have a few profiles: public and anonymous.
Of course, there are a few ways to implement this into the app. The first one is to create two independent classes for every profile. Then tokens of sessions switch from one class to the other class when a user switches a profile. This way affects the database because of the lack of dependencies between classes. The second one significantly reduces anonymity. There is about the storage of all user information (real data and information for the “anonymous” account) in one profile. In this case, ordinary users will see one selected by the owner of the profile. But any network request would transmit all information about this user.
Minds may be an example of such social network.
Anonymous Social Sharing Apps
Now information is increasingly moving from textual content to visual. Therefore, many people appreciate the opportunity to anonymously post their favorite images (or other media). This is the basis for anonymous social sharing apps – they can be either separate app or feature inside a social network app.
If you want to build an app like Whisper for anonymous social sharing, you need to consider the following:
• What type of content users are supposed to share? The choice of data storage method depends on this – for example, which of the cloud services to choose.
• Will it be possible to have a news feed? And where will the data about its formation be stored? In fact, it’s still the same issue of creating an account, which we covered in the previous section.
Anonymous Confessions Apps
Anonymous confessions apps – this is also a kind of social sharing apps in some way. The difference is that users share confessions. Accordingly, the requirements for this kind of apps are slightly easier: only text support is needed – alongside the same login question. Some applications go further and add features to select or upload images for the background or for accompanying their texts – as well as audio recordings.By the way, these functions can become a way of monetization.
Anonymous Chats Apps
Chats can be either separate applications or be part of an anonymous social network.
The main questions to be solved when creating an anonymous chat are:
• Will the chats be encrypted? If so, what type of encryption will be used? In solving this issue, we advise focusing on anonymous peer-to-peer technologies.
• Where will the chat history be stored – on the user’s side or on the server’s side?
• Will the correspondence be deleted? Through what time?
Examples: application like Secret and Yik Yak (both were shut down).
Read also: Messaging App Development
What To Consider During Anonymous Chat App Development
Anonymous chat app development is not a difficult work now. There are many ready-made solutions, for example, the open source SQRL protocol. But, as can be seen from the examples above, many known anonymous apps were shut down – mostly because they are encouraged bullying and give way to the growing popularity of simpler applications like Snapchat.
The main goal of anonymous social network applications is to share content anonymously, and this is also the main problem. On the part of users it is permissiveness and impunity (true or imaginary), and as a consequence – toxic community and so-called cyber-bullying. Of course, this can and should be fought in several ways:
• Warnings from the application.
• Some restrictions: login – for example, ‘anonymity’ from the Secret app included providing email or a phone number, regional or so on.
• Complaints from users (some kind of self-policing), some kind of content moderation or development of the intelligent system for responding to complaints. This includes the ability to customize personal news feed and personal blacklists.
• Limiting the types of content that users can publish. For example, the Blurtt app creators (it was also shut down) recommended to provide a library of pre-approved images.
Another problem of anonymous apps is the low payback. These apps cannot collect much information about users because of the anonymity itself. Developers of the Whisper app offer to use a “keyword-based” system, where advertisements are shown to users depending on certain words they type. Another way is to monetize various additional features, for example, avatars, emoticons or stickers. In some cases, even the possibility to use graphic and video elements in communication can be a source of profit – there was the Yik Yak app approach.
One can say that anonymous apps are popular and demanded on the one hand, and there is a sufficient amount of technology for their creation and maintenance now, but on the other – extremely difficult in terms of payback. The main secret is to create the app that users will be ready to pay for.