from the here-we-have-a-boring-public-IRC dept.
Sarahah, the anonymous messaging app founded in Saudi Arabia that became an unexpected viral sensation with teens, clocking up over 300 million registered users before getting banned by Apple and Google over bullying, is making a return to the App Store — but not as you might think.
The startup has launched a new, free iOS app called Enoff (pronounced "enough") aimed at organizations, tapping into the wave of employee activism and speaking out about unfair practices to provide a way for people in a team to give anonymous, one-way feedback to bosses and human resources reps. An Android version of Enoff is coming "very soon," according to CEO and founder Zain al-Alabdin Tawfiq.
Available also on the web, the aim is to provide a way to give feedback in cases of harassment, corruption and other tricky workplace situations where employees might fear repercussions for speaking out.
Easy way to monetize app: allow bosses to pay to unmask users.
Also at Wired.
Related: Anonymous Social App Raises Controversy on College Campuses
Square Hires Yik Yak's Engineers, Leaving Fewer Than 10 Employees Behind
Japan's Recruit Holdings Co. Acquires Glassdoor for $1.2 Billion
Jonathon Mahler writes in the NYT that in much the same way that Facebook swept through the dorm rooms of America’s college students a decade ago, the social app Yik Yak, which shows anonymous messages from users within a 1.5-mile radius is now taking college campuses by storm. "Think of it as a virtual community bulletin board — or maybe a virtual bathroom wall at the student union," writes Mahler. "It has become the go-to social feed for college students across the country to commiserate about finals, to find a party or to crack a joke about a rival school." And while much of the chatter is harmless, some of it is not. “Yik Yak is the Wild West of anonymous social apps,” says Danielle Keats Citron. “It is being increasingly used by young people in a really intimidating and destructive way.” Since the app’s introduction a little more than a year ago, Yik Yak has been used to issue threats of mass violence on more than a dozen college campuses, including the University of North Carolina, Michigan State University and Penn State. Racist, homophobic and misogynist “yaks” have generated controversy at many more, among them Clemson, Emory, Colgate and the University of Texas. At Kenyon College, a “yakker” proposed a gang rape at the school’s women’s center.
According to a Monday report in Bloomberg Businessweek, Square has acquired the "five- to ten-person" engineering team of Yik Yak for $3 million. That leaves just a handful of employees at the Atlanta-based social networking startup. In December 2016, the company already fired 30 of its 50 employees.
Since late last year, Yik Yak has largely gone silent. Its Twitter account hasn't posted since January 4, and its corporate blog has not posted since a month before that. According to Bloomberg, Square has not acquired any other companies since it bought the food delivery startup Caviar in 2014. (Square was founded as a mobile payment company in 2009 by Jack Dorsey, who also founded Twitter.)
Sounds like bad news for Yik Yak, good news for Yik Yak's engineers.
Sarahah, a new app that lets people sign up to receive anonymized, candid messages, has been surging in popularity; somewhere north of 18 million people are estimated to have downloaded it from Apple and Google’s online stores, making it the number three most downloaded free software title for iPhones and iPads.
Sarahah bills itself as a way to “receive honest feedback” from friends and employees. But the app is collecting more than feedback messages. When launched for the first time, it immediately harvests and uploads all phone numbers and email addresses in your address book. Although Sarahah does in some cases ask for permission to access contacts, it does not disclose that it uploads such data, nor does it seem to make any functional use of the information. Sarahah did not respond to requests for comment.
"Zachary Julian, a senior security analyst at Bishop Fox, discovered Sarahah's uploading of private information when he installed the app on his Android phone, a Galaxy S5 running Android 5.1.1. The phone was outfitted with monitoring software known as BURP Suite, which intercepts internet traffic entering and leaving the device, allowing the owner to see what data is sent to remote servers. When Julian launched Sarahah on the device, BURP Suite caught the app in the act of uploading his private data.
"As soon as you log into the application, it transmits all of your email and phone contacts stored on the Android operating system," he said. He later verified the same occurs on Apple's iOS, albeit after a prompt to "access contacts," which also appears in newer versions of Android. Julian also noticed that if you haven't used the application in a while, it'll share all of your contacts again. He did some testing on the app on a Friday night, and when he booted the app on a Sunday morning, it pushed all of his contacts again."
Japanese human-resources and consumer-information provider Recruit Holdings Co. has agreed to buy Glassdoor for $1.2 billion in cash. Through the tie-up, Recruit will gain access to the U.S. website's extensive cache of content such as employee reviews, while Glassdoor will seek to accelerate its push into non-U.S. markets. Recruit shares rose as much as 3 percent in Tokyo.
[...] Glassdoor runs the second-largest job website in the U.S. and is known for hosting anonymous employee reviews about the culture and management of their companies. Glassdoor was taking steps earlier this year toward an initial public offering and was said to be interviewing banks for a market debut in 2018.
Also at TechCrunch.