Ohio State secrets shared through new app
Published: Sunday, November 25, 2012
Updated: Sunday, November 25, 2012 22:11
Anonymity and social media might seem an unlikely pair, but a new iPhone application aims to combine the two.
Whisper is a new free app that allows its users to share secrets anonymously and add a little creativity into the mix. The first step to posting secrets is to choose a picture, and then filters can be added to customize the image. The next step is to add a message and customize the font, and then the “whisper” can be shared.
“We wanted to be able to give people a way to express things in a creative way, to convey something that’s more of a feeling,” said Michael Heyward, Whisper co-founder from Santa Monica, Calif.
Since the the app’s launch this summer, it has grown to 100,000 users mainly on college campuses, like Ohio State.
“I think it’s a great spin off of PostSecret,” said Chelsea Moherman, a third-year in pharmaceutical sciences and Whisper user.
PostSecret is a community art project where people mail in their secrets anonymously, which are then posted on a website. PostSecret used to have a iPhone app, however founder Frank Warren shut it down in early 2012 after only a few months of operation due to threatening and pornographic content.
“College students have a lot going on and they need a place where they can tell their secrets without judgment,” Moherman said. “The support really makes me feel better about what I’m going through.”
Facebook, with more than 1 billion users, and Twitter lead in social media, but for some students, Whisper has been added to the mix.
However, unlike other networks, Heyward said he hopes the app will promote honesty.
“When you look at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram — it’s so ego-based, everyone is showing the ‘best’ image of themselves,” Heyward said.
Ashley Coffey, a third-year in radiation therapy and campus manager for the Whisper on Ohio State Facebook page, said the app helps her feel more connected to the people around her.
“You don’t even realize how many secrets, or not even secrets but feelings, you have that you don’t share with other people until you get on this,” Coffey said.
The Facebook page is a collection of whispers that have gained popularity within the app, as well as whispers shared on campus. Pages exist on other campuses including Penn State University and University of Michigan.
“I get updates to my phone when someone has whispered in my area (within five miles) and I go through and pick out a few that would be interesting to students,” Coffey said.
The most popular Whisper topics at OSU are relationships, sex and school-related frustrations.
“Drinking and drugs too. It’s definitely a college-student based community,” Coffey said.
The Whisper app also has a Twitter account and online blog and despite its relatively new status, the OSU Facebook page had nearly 1,000 likes Monday.
“We had a contest between the campus managers on Monday (Nov. 13) to see who had the most downloads, and we, Ohio State, won. We had 82 downloads in one day,” Coffey said.
Though the app promotes anonymity, Heyward said in the future Whisper would allow users to connect.
“People have posted that they have met friends through posting secrets,” Coffey said, but added she has yet to hear of that happening at OSU.
Though connecting would be optional, some students have mixed feelings.
“I would probably be apprehensive at first,” Moherman said. “But meeting publicly at the school is something I would do. Maybe you could even make a friend.”