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Anonymous vs. Social

16th October 2012 by Jennie Stamp | Content & Search

A new social network iPhone app, Spraffl, is soon to launch (beta signup open) into an already overly saturated social media market. As we wait with baited breath for a new and exciting platform to come along and disrupt the social market, could Spraffl be it? As they embrace Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, with the tag line ‘Get ready for the first Anonymous Social Network!’ Surely that contradicts itself, how can you be social anonymously?

What we know about the app is what it WON’T have (nothing like a bit of negativity to get us excited):

  • No friend networks
  • No follows
  • No checkins
  • No badges
  • No points
  • No history

This is completely acceptable as we already have all this from other platforms, but then what is their USP? After signing up to the beta version, I received an email explaining their aim further:

‘Spraffl will allow people to post local ANONYMOUS statements visible to everyone around them to read and comment.  After you install the app, there are no friendship networks to build, no people to follow, no checkins and no history – your posts (or “Spraffs” in our case) will be made visible to everyone near you using the app – your ready-made network is everyone around you.

It will be very interesting to see how Spraffl is used as people are automatically connected to those around them without prior association. We anticipate it will be used for local gossip in a wiki-leaks style and also spreading local news and events in a neighbour to neighbour or colleague to colleague fashion. Spraffl will be self moderated so that any abusive content can be flagged and blocked, and regular abusers will be automatically shut out of the app.’


Is the app going to be similar to Path whose vision is “to build a network that is very high quality and that people feel comfortable contributing to at any time.” There is a strong focus to keep things private and just interact in a walled garden with a selection of people who you actually know.

Another platform, AnyBeat, was an anonymous social network that was bought and shut down earlier this year. Perhaps there is a reason it didn’t last?

Data Issues

The expansion of Big Data frequently raises identity and privacy concerns. As the number of online identities we own are increasing, big data is allowing these identities to be joined together, therefore creating a larger, all encompassing identity for ourselves and reducing privacy.  On social networks such as Facebook and Google+, it is a requirement that you use your real name therefore making it easier to link your separate online profiles together. This might not be the case with anonymous networks such as Spraffl.

On the flip side, the more data there is, the more intelligence there can be. In the future, it could be possible for our fridge to tweet us to let us know that our milk is about to expire and we need to get more on our way home, therefore making our lives easier.

What do you think, should people embrace anonymity and retain some privacy? Or should we embrace the open and social nature of the ever changing online space? After all, what is it that we want to hide?

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