Secret: The New Social App for Sharing Anonymous Confessions with Friends

August 7th, 2014

Pssst… Let me tell you a secret. There is a new social network that allows you to say what you want without the publicity. Secret, a new and addicting app available on both iOS and Android, shows that you can have a working, supportive social network that’s also anonymous.

Everyone has their motives for sharing on Facebook and Twitter. Whether it be support from family and friends, self-promotion, pity, loathing, or to simply show off fun and interesting things, we share to be noticed. Period.

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Image source: TabletMag

The thing I find most exciting about Secret is the ability to say whatever comes to mind without the fear of being criticized. No matter how funny, gross or controversial it may be. It allows users to be 100% authentic and themselves. Sounds liberating, doesn’t it?

So how does it differ from other similar apps like Yik Yak, Whisper and Confide? The main difference is that Secret starts with your friends. “It’s that relevance, knowing that it [secret message] could be from someone you know, that makes it so much more interesting and compelling,” says 32-year-old co-founder, David Byttow. Users can also customize the background color, images and text to fit the mood and theme of their confessions.

There doesn’t appear to be any signs of slowing down for this new network as it recently raised an additional $25 Million in venture financing from a number of investors. Yet, there are many controversies surrounding the app, much like any new app or tech startup. Most notably hate speech and cyberbullying. The team at Secret actively monitors posts to be sure such content is pulled down or if the user is showing signs of distress and possible self-harm, reaching out to them with a support group number.

One hesitation I have with the app is that it recently released an update to allow you to see anonymous secrets from your network of friends linked to Facebook. So, if you know your friends too well or know who is on the app already, be careful what say because it may be more revealing or harmful than you think.

Secret is available for free on both Android and iOS devices.

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Online Dating: Watch-outs for the “New Normal” Way to Meet People

May 16th, 2014

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This post originally appeared on the Social Media Week Chicago blog.

MatchTindereHarmony… the online dating options are vast. Since I work remotely from home, getting out and meeting new people, especially those of the opposite sex, can be somewhat a conundrum. After two years of living in a suburb full of young families and retirees, it was clear the young and single did not exist in the area. That meant a move. Yet, with the limitations of family and friends free to go out for drinks (all of which are mostly married with kids), this still proved a challenge. I’m not one to hang around bars all by my lonesome and sitting at home doesn’t help my cause either.

So I took to the online and social dating world, where 59% of respondents in a Pew study said they now agree with the statement that “online dating is a good way to meet people.”

After several months of reviewing profile bios and photos, I’ve noticed many common profile trends and image mistakes men and women may not realize. I’m here to help crack the code and hopefully help a few good men and women find their matches or avoid rejection.

1. The Unknown

We all love a little mystery, but having a completely empty bio leaves nothing to the imagination. If someone doesn’t even have time to write a sentence or two about themselves or their personal interests, they’re most likely not serious about being on the site and will likely never reply back to your messages.

2. The Groupie

Of course we love to see you in a photo with a group of friends to show that you’re not a hermit and enjoy the company of others, but not having a single profile photo of just yourself leaves everyone guessing as to “Who this profile is even for?” The last thing you want to happen is to have someone contact you, only to find out later that they were actually interested in that best friend who was next to you in every photo.

3. The Lone Ranger

In a world of smartphone cameras and Instagram, one photo doesn’t cut it. First impressions are everything and you don’t want to miss out a great thing because you chose the one wrong one. Mix it up and show off your social side with photos including yourself in group and family activities or even your dog subbing as your significant other.

4. The Extreme Close-Up

Before you take that selfie, make sure your photo is at least an arm’s length away. An extreme close-up of your forehead is not attractive and is just weird.

5. The Never Ending Story

We don’t need to hear your whole life story and every interest down to what you’re favorite color is. Keep a little something for the first date. Last thing you want to do is give too much away and potentially eliminating the chance of ever meeting because the person already knows everything about you and eliminates all interest.

6. The Repeater

If you messaged someone at least three times and they still haven’t responded back, it’s not that they’re too busy to answer; they are simply not that into you and feel it’s more polite to just ignore you rather than tell you directly. (“Clear Signs It’s Time to Quit Pursuing Her”)

7. The Height Factor

Pay close attention, guys. In my experience when a woman puts her height in her bio, often when 5’8” or taller, it usually means she’s looking for someone at least 4 inches taller than her. If she ends with “…and I like to wear heels,” that’s code for “anyone under 6’ tall need not apply.”

8. The Frozen

Communicating back and forth for a couple of weeks is fine, but after a month of endless messages and never taking the initiative to actually ask him/her out on a real date… Ain’t nobody got time for that. He or she is clearly interested in you to talk this long, now set a date before the whole thing fizzles out. (“Get out of the Online Email Dating Loop”)

What are some of your online and social dating do’s and don’ts?

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‘Real Time’ Host Bill Maher Uses Social Media to Change the Future of Congress

February 13th, 2014

Liberal comedian and host of the popular political HBO series Real Time with Bill Maher is taking on Congress’ “lame ducks” with his “Flip a District” campaign. Over the next several weeks, Real Time fans are being tasked with calling out the most ineffective and worst members of Congress in the country via Twitter, Facebook and Instagram using the hashtag #flipadistrict. Then, following in-depth research by the show’s staff, they will highlight the most mentioned congressmen or women in a March Madness-style bracket platform. From there, Bill Maher’s team will travel to the towns of the individuals’ district to speak with the local community, hold rallies introducing the challenger and try to shine enough light on the sitting member of Congress that will lead to them getting the boot.

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So how effective has the campaign been since its introduction? Who’s at the top of the chopping block? Let’s take a look at the current results.

As of Monday, more than 8,861 fans had used the #flipadistrict hashtag, 93% of those via Twitter, to identify a member of congress they feel is not performing to the best of their abilities for the people of their district. The most mentioned member of Congress? Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional District representative Paul Ryan.

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It’s no surprise that several thousands of the tweets calling out seat holders are from users affiliated with a political party, with several unique Twitter profiles tweeting and campaigning for the removal of their current representative nearly 100 times in the last two weeks. More often than not, the submission to remove is of a member of the tea party and/or GOP, as Bill’s show does cater to the blue demographic.

All I have to say is that the Real Time staff sure has their work cut out for them and I can’t wait to see how effective this political and social activation plays out in the end. You can catch Real Time with Bill Maher live every Friday night at 9pm (CST)/ 10pm (EST) on HBO.

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