At this point you probably already know about Sarahah, the anonymous messaging app that’s taken over a lot of people’s social media platforms the past few weeks. The app hit No.1 on the App Store’s list of top free apps last month, and is currently 45th on iTunes’ free apps of all time.
Here’s a fact: Sarahah translates to “honesty” in Arabic. Here’s another: When opened for the first time, the app harvests all your phone’s email addresses and contact numbers to be uploaded in the app’s servers. When opened after a few days of not using the app, Sarahah will share your personal information again.
Earlier this week, The Intercept reported that for both Android and iOS operating systems, the app scoops up information from your address book and sends that information to remote servers.
When The Intercept’s story was published on Twitter, Sarahah’s developer, Zain Alabdin Tawfiq replied, stating that the purpose of harvesting data was for a “find your friends feature” intended for release in the future and that the app has not stored any data in its database. Tawfiq also states that the invasion of privacy will be removed in the next update.
It was delayed due to a technical issue. The database doesn’t currently host contacts and the data request will be removed on next update.
— ZainAlabdin Tawfiq (@ZainAlabdin878) August 27, 2017
“It is impossible for anyone but the developer to know if the data is being stored or just used, and if stored, how well it is protected,” the same article reports.
In any case, being conscious about privacy concerns in our mobile apps should be a more common practice, considering that we live in a technology-reliant way of life. As we continue sharing our personal information in the web, we become more vulnerable to cyberattacks, phishing, or worse, identity theft.