This Saudi Arabian Social Media App is Trending in Dallas

sarahah logo

Scroll through your Instagram stories or your Snaps and you might see a simple looking screenshot of anonymous messages sent to one of your friends. The app is known as Sarahah, which means "honesty" or "frankness" in Arabic, and it's a top trending app in Saudi Arabia and right here in Dallas, TX. The app / website allows users to create a minimalist profile for use to seek out anonymous feedback from friends and social media connections much like Ask.fm, WiseLike (shut down), or other similar websites that have been around for some time.

instagram story sarahah message

An Instagram user from DFW shares her Sarahah URL with friends via the Story feature.

Unlike other websites/apps that perform similar functions; Sarahah doesn't use a Facebook, Twitter, Google or other social media login and promises private, anonymous messages between users. The makers of the app state that the purpose is to "Get honest feedback from your coworkers and friends".

Of course, as young adults will do with technology, the app is being used for more than just constructive criticism by peers - the most frequent usage I've noted so far is for courtship. Friends of mine on Instagram are using the app more for kicks than for specific questions and many are getting asked out on dates or more frank and intimate proposals messaged to them, I know this because after several anonymous messages come in they screenshot them and share that screenshot as an Instagram Story (side note: my sample is 100% female currently). See a few examples (with redaction for privacy) at the end of this article.

According to Mashable the apps sudden rise to popularity coincides with a Snapchat update which allowed users to add links to websites inside of their snaps. Immediately following this update the Sarahah app skyrocketed towards the top of the iOS charts and currently sits as the #3 most popular free app on the Google Play Store. As the app has become super hot it has racked up at least 14 million registered users according to it's creator who is struggling to support the massive user growth while the app experiences frequent crashes.

This may have also exposed a major flaw in Snapchat's model of private messaging (not having a webfacing profile page and not allowing anonymous messages).

sarahah google play ranking

Saraha currently sits right below Facebook Messenger and Snapchat on the Google Play Store as the #3 Free App, beating out Facebook itself.

How To Use Sarahah

If you're interested in using Sarahah to get feedback or have fun with your friends, using the app / website is pretty simple.

  1. Download the iOS or Android app to your phone (skip this step for desktop usage)
  2. Register for the website using your email address and a password. When you register you'll set a username which will be used for your unique URL and you'll be asked to give a name and upload a photo. Since the site is about being anonymous it's important to note that the photo is optional and that there is no way for Sarahah to force a user to use their real name (i.e. like Facebook does). If you're worried about privacy use a nickname here instead.
  3. Once you've registered you'll get a unique url such as Example.Sarahah.com
  4. Share this URL (or screenshot the page and upload it) on Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, FB or elsewhere to start getting feedback.

How Can You Use Sarahah for Business

14 million users in one month is a huge accomplishment, but it doesn't mean Sarahah will stick around for the long haul. I would recommend using it to get some feedback in screenshot form and using that content on your other social channels, if you have a younger (13-25) audience target.

For everyone else I would recommend at least making an account and sitting on it before someone claims a Sarahah account as your business and uses it to get feedback (or worse).

This app / site currently reminds me of Ello from a few years back and it could ultimately meet the same fate, so don't invest too heavily up front taking a long shot gamble.

Possible Black Hat Uses
You should be aware that there are clearly blackhat uses for a new social messaging app like this. For example a competitor could claim a profile with your brand as the username and use it to collect negative anonymous feedback (or even to push fake feedback to it) and then spread those screenshots across social media.

The site also includes a 'search' feature which can and will definitely be used for spamming. More clever spammers will likely crawl Twitter / Public FB / the web for Sarahah URLs and submit messages as right now there is little anti-spam technology on the app.

Sarahah is also not exactly built the best. Don't get me wrong, I'm impressed with the growth and how well the developer has done so far, but it appears to be a very basic CGI script running on Microsoft's Azure platform. If I understand correctly it appears that the app builds each new page of the website / app on the fly, which across the span of 14 million users probably takes up more resources than the developer can afford (this might also explain the terrible ads on the app / site). There is every chance that the user data and messages can be hacked easily if the code isn't secure enough and since Sarahah isn't owned or invested in by any company with significant resources (at least as of the date I'm writing this) there is no exploit / bug bounty program in place or big development team to fix any major issues uncovered before an opportunistic hacker finds the same issue and exploits it.

Interestingly enough when the website crashes the app seems to work fine.

NOTE: I do not endorse using black hat tactics, these are offered as an FYI to help business owners / marketers beware of the potential dangers in using Sarahah at the current state.

Other Criticisms

There have been a lot of rumors flying around and worries about this new app. A lot of this is FUD but I wanted to collect the main ones here for you to understand. To be clear these are all complaints about what Sarahah might enable and there's no evidence (unless specified) that any of this is true, please don't spread FUD.

  • The maker of the website will blackmail users to release their sent / received messages.
  • The anonymous nature of the website will enable bullying.
  • The anonymous nature of the website will enable harassment.
  • The website will be used by terrorists to plot attacks.
  • Teenagers will use the website to put together parties, plan sexual encounters, and plan to do drugs together.
  • The US Government (or other Governments) will gain access to all of the websites messages and user bases and use it against their citizens / residents / visiting peoples. - NOTE: The U.S. Government did cause the suspension of Dallas based Lavabit in 2013, a private encrypted email provider used by Edward Snowden, due to a demand for all user information from the service, though the service began operating again on a limited basis in June of this year.

What are your thoughts on Sarahah? Let me know in the comments (and if I have anything wrong or it needs updated we'll make sure to edit this article)

Examples of Messages Being Shared on Sarahah

sarahah app messages screenshot instagram

A glimpse at the type of messages being shared on Sarahah.

instagram sarahah message story screenshot

Another example of messages being sent via Sarahah, a top trending app on iOS and Android in Dallas.

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  33. The app sarah is very much trendy you just have to make an account on it and you can message a person what you think of them without revealing the name.
    I was dealing with some error in the app then i contacted Gmail support and they sorted the problem

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