App Watch: Anonymous Messaging

TELLOYMN joins a growing family of anonymous messaging applications including SarahahAsk.FM and Line. These platforms have evolved into an online environment rife with insults, inappropriate content and regular online bullying.

Why are anonymous messenger apps so popular among teenagers? They are forums which conceal the users identity and location and enable #TBH (to be honest) commenting. TELLONYM encourages users to “answer anonymous questions and ask others the things you have never dared before” making it appealing for curious teens seeking social acceptance and an opportunity to ask embarrassing questions among their peer groups.

To create an account, users are required to provide an email address or a phone contact, as well as acknowledge that they are 17 years old or under. A simple YES or NO response is required with no age verification process. TELLONYM encourages users to link their Snapchat and Instagram profiles, and like these platforms, encourages users to connect and build a following. Anyone can ask you a question and when you respond this becomes public on your profile for all who view your profile to see. It is common to witness negative or inappropriate questioning with replies/responses tending to being defensive, aggressive or offensive in nature.

The online anonymity that is present within TELLONYM is cultivating a negative, cruel and hurtful culture among online groups of young users. While users have the ability to block and report harmful behaviour, this will only ever take place after the damaging or bullying behaviour has occurred.

We recommend using the following points to stimulate a discussion with your own children or students in your class that highlight key issues surrounding TELLONYM and similar anonymous messaging applications:

  • Anonymity online: Whilst sending an anonymous message could save you the embarrassment of asking a question or telling someone what you ‘really think’, how might this anonymity potential hurt you or lead to hurting others?
  • Dangers of connecting multiple social networking profiles: The ability to link third-party apps to other social networking accounts does impact on your internet safety. What are the risks of connecting every social media app you download? 
  • Posting is permanent: Responding to messages sent to you “anonymously” become part of your digital footprint. Suggestive and private information sent through such apps may be revealed to a much wider audience than originally intended. How could this impact on your digital reputation and how people perceive you?
  • Words stick: There have been extreme and sad consequences of anonymous and ongoing negative messaging. How do you feel when you receive negative or mean comments? How would you feel if comments you made to someone online lead to making someone feel poorly about themselves?​
  • Bouncing Back: What do you do if you see, hear of receive negative comments? What are mature strategies and skills that you need to ensure you can bounce back?
  • Peer pressure: When all of your friends are ‘doing it’ and you don’t feel comfortable, how do you manage this pressure?