The app has had an up-and-down ride since it was launched a year ago. It became an instant success – worldwide, more than 300 million users have created accounts. Sarahah, which was developed in Saudi Arabia, topped Apple’s App Store in more than 30 countries.
“Sarahah” is the Arabic word for candor or openness. The CEO of Sarahah, Zain-Alabdin Tawfiq has disputed Collins’ allegations. He says the decision by Apple and Google to remove the app was “unfortunate”, but very optimistic about reaching a favorable understanding with them soon.
Collins, who lives in Australia, put up a post on online petition site Change.org. She called for the app to be removed from two of the biggest mobile storefronts – Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play store. The petition accused Sarahah of facilitating “bullying” and “self-harm”, and quickly gained nearly 470,000 supporters.
Sarahah pitches itself as a social network that lets users receive anonymous messages. It is not the first anonymous messaging app to be linked to online bullying. The Secret app shut down after criticism in 2015, and Ask.fm was linked to several teen suicides in 2013.* that suggests Sarahah’s meteoric rise may prove unsustainable. It was initially introduced as a website by Saudi Arabian developer Zain al-Abidin Tawfiq, who told tech news site Mashable that he wanted to help employees give anonymous & honest feedback to their boss. Anonymous messaging platforms like Yik Yak, Whisper, and Secret have consistently struggled to control malicious behavior, leading to declining use and, for Yik Yak and Secret, ignominious closure.