Secret says ‘no’ to cyberbullying, adds polls & Flickr photos

Secret, that anonymous app that’s part therapy, part mean-girls table, has announced three new changes today, and one of them could mean a little less bullying (hooray!).

In a blog post, the Secret team said it’s pulling the plug from your camera roll and replacing it with Flickr. It’s also adding a polling option for posts, and the app will feature some beefed-up security measures.

On the picture front, Secret writes, “Images were always intended to be the backdrop and set the mood for your words.” To that effect, the service has decided that you can no longer use photos from you phone’s camera roll, although you can still snap pictures in real-time, an option we’re glad it kept — how could you share a thought in the moment if you can’t capture the scene?

We’re not sure exactly why Secret pulled that move, although I’m thinking “incriminating” photos you’ve been saving is probably part of the reason.

Secret is also adding a feature that lets you turn a post into a yes-or-no poll. The company says that it’s “noticed people often using Secret to ask questions,” so it’s listening and helping you do that better. In a way, this is not surprising at all, as several startups in the past have created mobile apps for quick polling of large communities, including Thumb, Polar, and Seesaw.

Finally, Secret announced it’s doubling down on bullying by doing two things. First, its system will now look for keywords, sentiment, and photos of people in addition to people’s names. If it detects a potential violation, it will give you an opportunity to “re-think” that post before publishing, and if you still go ahead with it, its regular violations-detection system will kick in to take a look.

The second part of this is that Secret will begin blocking posts that contain private individuals’ names. Until now, it was merely discouraging them. The company writes, “We’ve learned that the vast majority of great secrets don’t have names in them, and the few that do usually aren’t productive and can even be harmful.” Clearly, this Secret’s attempt at preventing malicious gossip and cyberbullying.

It’s quite nice to see Secret acknowledging the need for such features. Cyberbullying has been a big part of the Internet’s ugly side for a long time, and apps like Secret, Whisper, Yik Yak, and many others naturally attracted such abuse, and they’ve all worked to address this in their own ways. I’m also finding this a bit surprising, in a good way, as Secret also launched “Dens” recently, a feature that just begged for office and school cyberbullying.

More information:

Secret is a new way to share what you’re thinking and feeling with your friends, anonymously. Write anything that’s on your mind, free of judgment. Make your words stand out by adding a photo or color backdrop. Customize further ... read more »

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