Psst! The Secret List of Anonymous Social Networks

The covert world of Whisper, Secret, Wut, and Yik Yak

Woman whispering to friend during backyard party on summer afternoon

Thomas Barwick/Getty Images

 

Anonymous social networking sites differ from first-generation social networks like Facebook in that they don't revolve around the user's real identity. Many encourage users to stay anonymous or adopt pseudonyms.

These mostly mobile-based services allow people to send messages from their smartphones to others who use the same apps—or to the whole world, in some cases. Some, like SnapChat, also make the messages disappear quickly.

People describe these apps as anonymous and private because they purportedly let people share information without overtly identifying themselves. But users beware: When was anyone ever really anonymous on a mobile phone? Talk about a unique identifier!

Most supposedly private social networking services are far from private. The not-so-secret truth about them is they aren't very secret at all. They may not be open billboards to the world, like blogs and tweets, but most of the content they share is traceable or recordable in some fashion.

With that disclaimer out of the way, it's nonetheless fascinating to see all the experimentation underway to develop new forms of social networking that might take information-sharing into the post-Facebook, post-Twitter, and even post-Pinterest era.

Here's a list of anonymous social networking sites and apps, with a few pseudo "private" networks thrown in (services that attempt to make messages disappear):

Whisper

Whisper App
Screenshot/Whisper
What We Like
  • No user names means posts are very anonymous.

  • A Nearby tab shows posts in your local area.

  • Most Popular page provides a good jumping off point.

What We Don't Like
  • With anonymity comes scammers, pervs, etc.

  • No dark theme.

  • Ads.

Whisper was one of the first so-called anonymous mobile apps, launched in 2012. It’s designed for publicly sharing secrets, a kind of public confessional booth. Users share their thoughts anonymously in the form of an image and a sentence or two of text. There is no concept of identity on this platform at all—people share their thoughts without attaching a pseudonym or name. Which makes this app more anonymous than some of the others. Whisper is available on both the iPhone and Android platforms.

Wut

Wut mobile app
Screenshot

Wut’s self-described “semi-anonymous chat” app launched in January 2014 for the iPhone, with promises of an Android version soon. It’s a cross between Snapchat and Facebook, with a big twist. What’s different is that people connect with their friends on Wut, and can only send messages to those friends, but no one gets informed which friend sent which message. So people wind up playing a guessing game as to who created what content. Messages are deleted after a while, making it a bit like Snapchat.

Popcorn Messaging

Popcorn messaging app
Screenshot

This iPhone app also offers a pseudo-private messaging service, allowing those who have it installed to chat with other users who happen to be within a one-mile radius. It’ s a very simple chat room, reminiscent of the days when America Online hosted real-time chats and people talked anonymously in a ton of different chat rooms on AOL.

Rumr

Rumr mobile app
Screenshot

Rumr's tagline is “anonymous messaging with people you know." Launched in March 2014, it lets groups of friends create private chat rooms and anonymizes them when they enter, so they know they’re in there with pals but don’t know which one is saying what. It’s a chat room version of Wut. “It's like having a conversation with the lights off,” Rumr says on its download page.