"There's really nothing new about what this is doing," says David Ryan Polgar, digital citizenship expert and head of trust and safety for Friendbase, a virtual world for teens."The larger point that we need to decide when designing these environments is pretty philosophical — at our core, 'how are people?It's also introduced new filter tools, better moderation and a human team reviewing reports of harassment.
The app rushed to fix the privacy error but failed to control another major issue: cyberbullying.
Before the app shut down in 2015, tech blogs and anti-harassment groups criticized Secret, and a Brazilian court even ordered Apple and Google to remove the app from its app stores.
Founder David Byttow acknowledged Secret's anonymity had been "the ultimate double-edged sword." In the footsteps of Secret came Yik Yak, the college and high school "virtual bulletin board" sensation.
Tawfiq told CNN Tech the app experienced massive growth among younger users after teens started posting Sarahah messages on Snapchat.
"I told myself in November, 'You'll be satisfied with 1,000 messages' and then I'll call it a success," he said.