Understanding the issue
This section provides a brief run-down of some of the most common anonymous apps.
NGL (‘not gonna lie’) is an anonymous messaging app that promises to be a “fun yet safe place” to express “feelings and opinions without shame.” It uses algorithms to stick to current trends in lingo and emojis while also filtering out ‘harmful’ messages. Users can add a sticker to their Instagram story, which allows their followers to ask them anything anonymously.
All responses are sent through the NGL app. Because these responses are anonymous, if you decide to respond, replies will post directly to your Instagram story. Users can also upgrade to NGL Pro for a small cost that allows them to see ‘hints’ as to who the sender was without having to repost the message.
This app was created in 2021 and is aimed very specifically at teenagers. While NGL claims to use AI to filter out harmful or explicit messages, this is not 100% fool proof technology. They do ask users to report others, but there is no blocking function due to the app’s user anonymity.
ASKfm is an app and website where a user, whose identity is known gets asked questions by users who can opt to keep their identity hidden. While some use the site innocently, many use it maliciously, telling the user to ‘kill themselves’ or asking inappropriate questions.
ASKfm has been linked to several incidents of cyber-bullying. If children and young people in your care are using ASKfm, make sure they know how to block users on the app.
Fact: According to their official website, ASKfm has over 215 million users worldwide.
While Whisper is an app aimed at older teens and students, there is likely to be young people of all ages using it. It is a location-based app, meaning that users in your area have posted most of the content you can see. There is a risk of anonymous bullying on the app, as rumours can be started which are visible to other users in the area.
Fact: Whisper is used by 250 million people across 187 countries.
Qooh.me is a social site where users ask anonymous questions so they can find out more about you. The site allows ANYONE to ask you questions. Explicit content can be found within the answers to the questions which are public. It’s a good idea to talk to young people in your care about not sharing personal information online.
Fact: Six months after Qooh.me was released, it had over 170,000 registered users!
Lipsi is an app which allows you to give ‘honest’ anonymous feedback to your friends on their social media accounts. It lets you search for other users nearby and start anonymous conversations with them. The app encourages you to link your Lipsi account to your Instagram bio so that your followers can leave anonymous feedback on your photos.
The minimum age to use this app is 18, but it has gained popularity with secondary school pupils.
Tellonym allows you to post questions or ‘tells’ to your followers. You can also respond to other user’s ‘tells’ anonymously. It allows you to link your other social media accounts in your bio. This app can be easily used to bully or abuse other users, making it a particular risk for children and young people.
Fact: Tellonym was created and initially released in Germany but has since become popular in the UK and other countries.