Hey, check it out, PostSecret has a new app. Well, it’s not exactly PostSecret, but close enough.
Whisper has actually been around since November of last year, and has recently gotten enough users and venture capital to start gaining the attention of the public at large. Whisper is, for all intents and purposes, PostSecret – you post a photo, along with some text of your own as an overlay, anonymously. Possibly the only difference is that with Whisper, you can anonymously comment on others’ pictures for free, or pay to send a private message. The private message fee – $0.99 for one, $5.99 for one month, $11.99 for three months, and $16.99 for six months – is there to make Whisper a little extra cash, but maybe more so to discourage spam and abusive messages. Of course, you used to be able to post comments on PostSecret, but that’s no longer the case for reasons we’ll get to later.
A “little extra cash” is somewhat misleading. 800,000 private messages were sent every day last month, so, that’s a significant daily haul when you run the numbers. For reference, last month Whisper saw a billion page views on its app, which is available for iOS and, more recently, for Android. That’s also a big number, explaining why the app recently received $3 million in venture capital funding.
Comparisons are being drawn between Whisper and SnapChat, mostly because of the anonymous factor that makes them both part of a sort of anti-social network movement. Problem is, SnapChat is perfect in its person-to-person, momentary sharing way. It keeps things between two people, for a short time. It can’t become a cesspool, because there’s no actual pool to speak of.
Cesspool seems like a strong word to throw out there, but then you wonder why there aren’t so many comparisons being made to PostSecret itself, and that’s when the bad news starts rolling in. Whisper is essentially PostSecret, so why aren’t we talking about the PostSecret app? That’s because it doesn’t exist anymore – the developer actually removed the app completely. The reason doesn’t bode well for Whisper – after launching in September 2011, the sheer amount of abusive and pornographic posts, threats, and spam overwhelmed the moderation team, leading to the app’s death a few months later. After all, services like Whisper are here to bring out the secrets people don’t want to share publicly, with their name attached. By definition, we’re wandering into dark territory.
True, the Whisper app has already survived longer than the PostSecret app, but then again, PostSecret was already a phenomenon at the app’s launch – Whisper needed those first few months just to make a name for itself. Now that it has done that, more and more people will flock to the app, and something tells me humanity hasn’t fundamentally changed in the last two years. Here’s hoping the team of 10 at Whisper has a plan in place just in case things get ugly, especially with those comments.