Secret app is no more after owner calls it quits

30 Apr 2015

A little over a year after it was created, the anonymous messaging service Secret is shutting down because its creator said it “does not represent the vision” he had for the app.

Speaking in a Medium post, Secret app’s founder David Byttow said that, despite the best intentions he had for an app that would allow people to be honest due to its promise of anonymity, he described the reality as being akin to a “double-edged sword, which must be wielded with great respect and care”.

The Secret app was launched back in January 2014 amid much interest due to the fact the app uses the phone’s contact list to build up an anonymous network that, in theory, made the best sense to grow the number of users but, soon enough, found issues, particularly with cyber-bullying.

From reports issued last year, a number of users were reporting that the anonymity led to a significant increase in cyber-bullying, which seemed to go against the entire premise of what Byttow had in mind.

Secret post-mortem due soon

Other issues also arose in August when security researchers found a number of major vulnerabilities that could allow someone to remove the anonymity from users and read all of their Secret posts.

In pulling the Secret app, Byttow is effectively wiping his hands of any involvement with it and will now begin sending investors’ money back to them, estimated at around US$35m.

“Innovation requires failure, and I believe in failing fast in order to go on and make only new and different mistakes,” Byttow said.

Judging by his subsequent words, the Secret team has been winding down for some time now and plans to “publish post-mortems so that others can learn from the unique mistakes and challenges we faced and the wisdom gained from such an incredible 16 months”.

Man shushing image via Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic