|Whisper preview on iTunes|
A SOCIAL NETWORK WITH A CONSCIENCE...IT'S ABOUT TIME
My biggest issue with facebook is that as a social platform it gives users a false sense of privacy and autonomy, as if you are speaking to a select group of contacts, and you have control over how your personal information is distributed. When in fact, everything that goes on facebook is being crunched by very sophisticated algorithms and turned into pure marketing data, then sold to advertisers.
Facebook thrives on identity. As an identity-based social network, facebook knows your real name, how old you are, what you do for a living, how you spend your personal time, your relationship status, how many kids you have, how old they are, and how educated you are. Facebook knows all of this because every person who has an account voluntarily shares this information. It doesn't matter how many privacy controls you have in place. Once the information is fed to facebook, it gets regurgitated to hungry advertisers as valuable chunks of personal information which they then use to target customers.
Along comes Whisper, a new mobile app by founders, Michael Heyward and Brad Brooks. It's free unless you want to commuicate directly with other users. The cost for private messaging is $5.99 for a monthly subscription; $11.99 for 3 months; $16.99 for 6 months; and 99¢ for a single conversation. The development team decided to charge for private messaging as a way to discourage solicitors and personal marketing. Smart. It also provide extra insurance against cyberbullies and Internet trolls who are less likely to pay out of their own pockets to harass people online.
WHAT MAKES IT DIFFERENT
What makes this social app different from facebook is that it's anonymous, relatively speaking. Your info is still being stored by Whisper, but it's unexposed. There is a sensible age restriction of 17 & older because of racy content, i.e. the usual references to drugs, alcohol, sex & crude humor. Posts have no identity, just a message posted against a photo backdrop chosen from Whisper's stock photos or uploaded by users. It also has a location feature, a popularity feature, and a most recent postings feature.
It's different from Twitter in two ways. The photo back-drops personalize the posts, and the anonymity generates a level of rawness and honesty that is lacking on both facebook and twitter. I like twitter and its versatility as a real-time communication device. It is the most powerful social network out there. Whisper connects on a more personal level and in a more poignant way.
Like facebook when it started, Whisper is popular among the college crowd. Unlike facebook, which admittedly works well as a communication device, Whisper has the potential to function as a mental health conduit for what many perceive to be a real epidemic of anxiety disorders among 20-Somethings.
From the Whisper app website:
YOUR VOICE is a non-profit organization founded by the Whisper app and dedicated to raising awareness about mental health issues on college campuses. It provides resources for college students who struggle with issues like depression, anxiety, eating disorders, sexuality, and managing stress. Our goal is to eliminate the stigma associated with mental illness and create a space for students to express their struggles, however big or small, while knowing they are not alone.
This makes me happy.
Here's to using social networking for the greater good.
Click HERE to go to the YourVoice Whisper Project
Click HERE to see the iTunes preview
Click HERE to see examples on the Whisper blog