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What is Sarahah?

Sarahah, which translates to “frankness” or “honesty” in Arabic, essentially allows you to anonymously message others. You can compliment them or critique them, and they will have no idea it’s you unless you tell them. You can even link it to your Snapchat account. It’s been popular in the Middle East and North Africa for some time, but it just recently caught on in America and Europe and America.

Zain al-Abidin Tawfiq, Sarahah’s developer, who is from Saudi Arabia, told Mashable that he came up with the app so that workers could leave anonymous feedback for their bosses, and then at some point, he realized anyone could use it for a number of reasons. It only entered the US Apple App store in early June, but it quickly spread to Canada and is now blowing up in India and elsewhere.

What’s the point of Sarahah?

The idea is that you sign up, then send a link to your profile to whomever you want for feedback, even if that means posting it publicly online, and then anyone with that link can anonymously provide feedback. The app logs comments you have received, sent and favorited. Currently, there’s no way to follow a person or reply to an anonymous message, but Sarahah said it is “studying this option.”

How does Sarahah work?

So, you create your Sarahah profile, which anyone can visit. Even without logging in or having an account, people can visit your profile and leave messages, anonymously. All your incoming messages will show up in an inbox, and you can flag, delete, report, or favorite them. But you can’t reply to them. Continue reading for a more thorough broke down of how the app works.

Create an account

Download the Sarahah app either from the Apple App Store or Google Play. You’ll then need to create an account, which you can do from either the app or the site. Once logged in, you can adjust notification preferences, language, and privacy options. Make sure to deselect both “Appear in search” and “Allow Unauthorized Users to Post” if you do not want to receive messages from strangers.

Share your account

Once done with settings, go to your blank profile page and take note of the web address in the middle of the screen (username.Sarahah.com). This is the link you must share with people so that they can “find” you on Sarahah and send you messages. Just press on it to share the link via social media, email, SMS, messaging apps, or wherever. You should start to receive messages after you’ve shared it.

View your messages

To view your messages, press on the speech bubble icon on the bottom portion of the app. Make sure you’re on the “received” tab. Once you’ve received a message, you can press on the heart icon to add it to your favorites, select the arrow icon to share it, or select caution symbol to block the sender. You can also report a message by pressing the red flag icon. To delete a message, press the “x” in the corner.

Send a message

Go to the “Search” function – that magnifying glass at the bottom – and type in someone’s name. You’ll need their actual name because the search function doesn’t work with usernames. You can message from any device, whether from the app or the website, and you don’t even need an account. You just need to know the person’s Sarahah URL, and then you can send a message from your laptop. Easy.

But you’ll need to make an account if you want to receive messages.

Link to Snapchat

You can post your Sarahah URLs to Snapchat so followers can quickly send you anonymous messages. To do this, make a new snap. You should then see a paperclip on the right-hand side of your image. Click it and type the link to your Sarahah profile (username.Sarahaha.com) and send it as a direct message or add it to your Snapchat story. Once it posts, people can swipe up to access the link and message you.

You can choose to allow non-registered users to send you messages, or opt only to receive messages from authenticated members. If you allow unregistered members to message you, all they need is the link to your profile.

To give feedback, a person only needs to click onto your page, where they will be redirected to a dialogue box. This is where they can enter whatever message they want to. Those messages appear in your inbox without any details relating to the identity of the sender. Without the sender’s knowledge, you are able to favorite, delete, export, or flag their comments. You are not able to reply to messages.

The premise of the application is that it sends anonymized, blunt messages to its users, as a way to serve “honest feedback” received by both employees, friends and other impartial users with the aim of contributing to constructive, whatever ideas or individual development you are aiming for. The application has become the third most downloaded free software on iOS.

Once the application has been downloaded and started, Sarahah asks for permission from the user to access their contacts, It does not, however, reveals his intent, in terms of how the contacts are used, and what for. Therefore, the data is uploaded to a completely unidentified server for unknown reasons.

According to Zachary Julian, Bishop Fox senior security analyst, when he installed the application on his Galaxy S5 Android 5.1.1, he was able to track the suspicious activity exhibited by Sarahah in private information about unknown servers. He was able to conclude his observations using a BURP suite that has the software installed to monitor and intercept all incoming and outgoing internet traffic on the device. Thus, the owner of the device can track any data and monitor where it is sent and to whom, essentially the unidentified server Spek his contacts were sent without his permission. The procedure to get used by the application in their attempt and the user to load contacts is the same for Android and iOS devices alike – requesting permission to access their contacts.

Julian was able to draw on his initial insights when he noticed that the application would actually share his contacts on the server if it was not used for a while. He implemented data sharing tactics by Sarahah, using the app on Friday night and having it on Sunday mornings boats enough time for the application to have its contacts uploaded to the unidentified servers.

The developer of Sarahah, Zain al-Abidin Tawfiq, in turn, responded to the news from Twitter to claim that the subject is being looked at and fixed immediately. Speaking to the Intercept , Tawfiq elaborated on the questions by stating that the function was designed with a very different purpose in mind, especially as a way to “find” your friends, “But, the feature was due to an unexpected technical The employees who had been allegedly unable to fix the issue were unable to resolve it within the company’s leadership structure due to misunderstandings. Nevertheless, Tawfiq has claimed that their application does not save the user’s contact in the database of the user company. 

The larger edition is at stake with apps like Sarahah

It can be seen that applications are argued with, like Sarahah, such questions are in abundance and quite the common occurrence. What should be worrying is not so much about the possible data stolen from your device, rather, how is that the data used – that to go, is stored somewhere remote and without knowing you, and beyond your control. The security of the company is fundamental to the protection of privacy. It will be accessed and edited by the company about so much in terms of the critical nature of the information. Great application developers have been hacked before leakage of information causes the abyss of the internet to pour in for all but they may want it. Unable to trust the safety of the business, let alone know that the condition of it could be harmful and have devastating consequences for both individuals and their private information as well as business assets.

Julian that the company developed, consciously the function rather than being a careless company to be misunderstanding, more so because it asks for permission to exchange this information with an external server without ever accessing Hinting’s user contacts. On the one hand, on iOS devices, surely it’s asking for permission to show your contacts “to you who has an account in Sarahah,” while on the other hand, on Android devices, reasons and Notifications for your contacts will be omitted.

Sarahah’s privacy policy specifically states that if she plans to use your information, it will ask for your consent. However, this can not be used as a justification for obtaining and uploading your contacts on an unidentified server list without the user getting notified first. By the same token, on iOS devices, the application never shows who else is using Sarahah even though it pretends to pretend to be unauthorized in the user’s contacts list.

As it stands now, it is still unclear why and how this information is collected and used, although it is not mentioned in Sarahah’s Privacy Policy that all information received will not be sold to third parties without the consent of the user. Whether the company comes clean for its users or not, it will be a thing for the future. Until then we would have to wait and see. 

In early 2018, an online petition by one mother about her concerns about Sarahah reportedly caused both Apple and Google to remove the mobile app from both the iOS App Store and the Google Play Store, although the Sarahah website remains active.

So what is Sarahah, and what made its mobile app launch so controversial? Why did Apple and Google remove the mobile app from their stores in 2018? Read on for the answers.

With the sudden rush in Sarahah’s use by teenagers in the U.S. and other markets, concerns about cyberbullying on the service grew among their parents. Sarahah definitely didn’t invent cyberbullying, but the service’s design of sending anonymous messages to friends made it easy for some people to send harassing or racist texts to others, including death threats.

Sarahah’s creator, Zain al-Abidin Tawfiq, claimed at the time the service had AI-based filtering systems to detect offending texts and would have blocked them from being sent to their intended recipients. However, it would appear those filtering features are hit and miss in terms of their effectiveness. One of the many public reports of cyberbullying via Sarahah came in early January 2018 from a 14-year old girl from the U.K. Messages not only harassed the girl but tried to bully her into harming herself or even committing suicide.

In August 2017, Sarahah also had to deal with privacy concerns. The Intercept reported the mobile app collected and uploaded the user’s phone numbers and email addresses from their smartphone’s contacts. Tawfiq later stated that feature was supposed to be part of a planned “find your friends” addition to Sarahah but added that functionality has now been removed from its servers. The company now claims it does not store any phone numbers or email addresses from its users.

The straw that broke the back of Sarahah’s mobile app seems to have been an online petition on the Change.org website. It was begun in January 2018 by Katrina Collins, a mother from Australia who said her 13-year-old daughter had received harassing messages via Sarahah. Collins pointed out that both Google Play and App Store have policies banning apps promoting bullying, and wondered why Sarahah was still available to download. She urged people to put pressure on Apple and Google to get Sarahah and other apps like it banned from those download stores.

The Change.org petition quickly generated over 400,000 online “signatures.” In late February 2018, the petition worked, as both Apple and Google removed the Sarahah app from its stores (neither Apple nor Google would officially comment on the decision). For his part, Tawfiq told the BBC the decision to shut down the iOS and Android apps was “unfortunate.” He tried to put on a brave face, stating he hoped that the company would come to a “favorable understanding” with Apple and Google. However, the Sarahah app currently is still not available on either storefront.

What is the current status of Sarahah?

While the Sarahah mobile app is no longer available on the Google Play Store or on the iOS App Store, it still works if you downloaded the app before its removal. More importantly, the Sarahah website is still available for people to sign up for and use. You can even have the mobile version of the site set up as a shortcut to your home page. While it doesn’t have the same kind of reach as it did in mid-2017, Sarahah still can be used, potentially by teenagers younger than what the service is supposed to allow.

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Sarahah, which translates to “frankness” or “honesty” in Arabic, essentially allows you to anonymously message others. You can compliment them or critique them, and they will have no idea it's you unless you tell them. You can even link it to your Snapchat account. It's been popular...
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