Kush Tripathi, DTM

8:18 PM, 16th Mar 2018

Reasons behind virality of sarahah


Recently my social media timelines have been filed with Sarahah and everyone is crazy about the messages they receive on the app.

This app has certain features which make it popular. The two main reasons being:

  • Honesty
  • Anonymity

These are two of the most precious things in the volatile environment which we have currently in the world and add to that social sharing among the millennials.

With the millennials population on the rise and their sentiments highly being dependent on what others think about them, has made this app go viral beyond the scale the founder had imagined.

Millennials are a social generation who are more prone to broadcasting than developing genuine relationships. This is caused by attributing success to confidence, rather than hard work, and can lead to a strong fear of rejection and criticism.

Within this context, it’s natural that we’re seeing an increasing number of social networks that allow millennials to express their views anonymously, without the fear of being challenged personally.

What is Sarahah app?

Developed by Zain al-Abidin Tawfiq from Saudi Arabia in 2016, this app was created with the intention to receive an honest feedback from employees or friends, but anonymously. This app can be used in two ways, through its website and through its mobile app. It is available on the Android as well the iOS platform.

Once downloaded, users have to register themselves. Users can then search other friends or users they want to send messages to. On selecting one such friend, a message box appears, which prompts the user to ‘leave a constructive message’ followed by a smiling emoji. Once confessed, the user can press the send button and ‘the truth is set free’. It allows only texts and no graphics.

Those at the receiving end of the message, have an option to either like it by pressing the heart button, which cannot be viewed by any of the senders. And, if they think it is denigrating or a spam, the user has a choice to block that particular person. But, it does not provide any option to respond to those messages, however, as per Sarahah's website they are still working on this aspect.

To keep things interesting, the app has an option to share the link to their Sarahah username, and also share any ‘constructive message’ they receive. The link can be shared with all major social media buttons like WhatsApp, Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, and Telegram.

How did it become popular?

In an interview with the Mashable, Tawfiq, a computer scientist from Saudi Arabia, said that he started this as an employees’ forum where people could give constructive criticism about each other. Keeping a 1000 message target in mind, the website, eventually spread to other Middle Eastern countries, like Lebanon and Tunisia.

However, it got a massive jump when Arab expatriates living in Canada began using Sarahah there. Recently, on 13 June, this website was turned into an app and was added to App Store. Slowly its popularity grew. So much so that on the App Store, it is the most downloaded app after WhatsApp, leaving even Snapchat behind. It was Snapchat, which became

In fact, it was Snapchat, which is an update let its users share Sarahah messages, prompting their followers to download Sarahah app. Snapchat became a catalyst in increasing Sarahah's popularity.

On first glance, Sarahah sounds a lot like anonymity focussed apps we had seen in the past such as Secret or Whisper. These apps too had their heyday couple of years ago, but the craze eventually died off.

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