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Anonymous app Whisper grows more irresistible with categories and location search

Whisper, the time-sucking vampire of an anonymous social app, has created new ways to get lost in other people’s secrets. A Monday refresh on iOS, the biggest since the app’s launch in 2012, now lets you find submissions based on location, popularity, and category.

The app lets you anonymously submit an image with a text overlay. Some people submit their deepest, darkest secrets, like PostSecret for the mobile era. Whisper’s overhaul makes it easier to find posts in some 200 categories ranging from serious topics like Faith and LBGTQ to light-hearted “Game of Thrones” posts in Celebrities and Pop Culture. Warning: These categories are rabbit holes. You may lose whole hours scrolling through secrets in any given category.

whisper categories

Whisper's new categories make it easy to search the app for secrets you care about.

The updated app also now includes an Explore feature so you can map secrets from all over the world. This feature sounds appealing. I was curious as to what kind of confessions people in other cities might have, but looking at submissions in midtown Manhattan made me shake my head. People are just looking to hook up. I looked up Whispers in Paris and Shanghai for comparison: Lots of hook-up requests there, too. At least searching for anonymous love is an international phenomenon.

Whisper is positioning itself as a news-breaking app based on the anonymous tips that people often submit, and Monday’s update added a News category. But it’s unclear how the categories are curated—News was a cornucopia of decidedly non-newsy submissions. The app has news editors that presumably cull the app’s most interesting tidbits, but as it stands, the News category isn’t all that interesting or newsworthy. Yet.

The app is part of a rising tide of anonymous social messaging rivals, like Secret, Wut, and Confide, which are being positioned as the opposite of Facebook: Networks that don’t need your identity and don’t collect data to sell you things. As you might expect, every anonymous app has struggled to varying degree with the sort of bullying that anonymity tends to breed. Whisper is no stranger to that struggle, but, to its credit, also runs a nonprofit devoted to spreading awareness about mental health on college campuses. While the organization, Your Voice, probably doesn’t help the high school teens being harassed on the app, at least it’s something.

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