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According to a new report in the New York Times, Facebook is building an anonymous social app. The app will allow people to create multiple different pseudonyms and “interact” with each other. Users can connect over topics.
The details, provided to reporter Mike Isaac by two unidentified sources, are fuzzy. It’s not clear whether the app is meant to compete with Secret and Whisper, focusing on “broadcasted” posts, or whether it’s purely a messaging app. We don’t know whether the app would connect with the Facebook application itself. We don’t know whether image sharing will have a role, or whether your friend connections will appear à la Secret.
Basically, we don’t know much. But the simple fact that [company]Facebook[/company] is exploring anonymity should make Whisper, Secret, Yik Yak, Reddit, and their ilk at least a little nervous. According to the report, Facebook has been working on this product for a year — no small potatoes in terms of a time investment. It’s never fun when the reigning social media champion cottons onto your product.
Of course, success isn’t guaranteed. For example, Facebook’s attempts to rival competitor Snapchat — see: Poke and Slingshot — didn’t exactly pan out. But Snapchat had already built out a substantial user base and brand for itself when that happened, whereas the anonymous apps currently on the market are less established (Reddit aside).
It’s a very unusual product shift for Facebook, which has placed a huge priority on “real identities” since launch. Perhaps the company is keeping a close eye on shifting social tides to stop the likes of another Snapchat from sneaking up on it.