On Secret, anonymity, vulnerability, and the future of #social

Matt: Question on Secret... can I ask your opinion?

Lucy: Yeah! Just downloaded it today but I’ll try my best to answer.

Matt: When you want to broadcast an anonymous msg, do you have to add people to the group first or can the message go out to a random set of people?

Lucy: I think it’s a ripple effect? Your first post goes to your Facebook friends (that the app automatically pulls in upon log-in) and then if those friends like it, it will go to their friends, and if their friends like it, it will go out to that 3rd degree’s network, etc. So only good ones get “up voted” into the mass message pool that everyone gets.

Matt: I see. And it all goes anonymously to those people (Facebook friends) that are signed up to the Secret platform...yes?

Lucy:  Yep, should be the case. There’s also an option to “Turn on nearby secrets” and “tune in to the thoughts of those around you."

Matt: Includes secrets from people that aren't your Facebook friends?

Lucy: Yeah, includes secrets close in proximity that may not necessarily be a part of your relationship network.

Matt: Cool thx. What do you think of the service?

Lucy: Conceptually, reading all the press about it, I hated it. It seemed like a ghetto version of Post Secret / another ask.fm situation where I thought people would just use it to hide behind technology, fueled by official anonymity. 

Lucy: However, after using it, I gotta say it is kind of addicting. There’s a weird kind of rush using it. What do you think of it?

Matt: You like it because you can say whatever the hell you want and nobody knows?  Most of the time you post (on FB/Insta) you want people to know its you. Do you think you will taper Secret usage because of the purely anonymous nature?

Matt: I haven't used it but it sounds like it has a limited purposeful usage. 

Lucy: At face value, it’s saying whatever the hell you want. But, after your scroll through the feed — even not having posted anything — there’s this vulnerability & (ironically) intimacy that anonymity enables, I think.  Personally, I’d agree with your tapering statement. I don’t see myself engaging with the app often, but maybe when I’m bored / lonely. It makes the world / tech age a bit less cold, and anonymity reduces fomo (fear of missing out).

Matt: I can definitely see the anonymous attractor.  I think for long term retention, users need to feel gratified after sending and received feedback. Don't you feel good when people comment on your post and you know who that person is?

Lucy: It is definitely a good feeling. Secret notifies you when someone has liked or commented on your post. And for some reason, I think removing identification gives each post a life of its own and a higher probability of going ‘viral’ your message resonates with more and more ’strangers’.

Matt: Interesting. Thanks for the insight

Lucy: You’re welcome! Hope it was helpful. Also check out “Cloaq” if Secret intrigues you.

Lucy: ...unless you're Cloaq… that’d be awk. So meta.

Matt: Nah, we're not cloak. Nice read though, thanks. Looks like those Cloak guys need a lesson in social media marketing 101. Cloak is so secret it's never going to come out! 

Lucy Xu: Looks like they're trying to up their cool factor, those hipster entrepreneurs.