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The Secret Bubble and Why Secret Matters, by Matthew Panzarino, TechCrunch


Stashed in: Valuation, Snapchat, 2014, Secret!

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Matthew says Secret and Whisper and Snapchat have real staying power despite not really being private:

There are a few major trends in consumer Internet worth tracking, and several of them are woven together. Among these are messaging, ephemerality and anonymity. All of them are products of a generation raised on the Internet. I do not believe this is a coincidence.

Truth be told, I think that Secret likely has a strong chance of puncturing the virtual real-estate of the early adopter bubble. It’s got a simple, universal premise and a very human draw. It taps into the psychological topology of the modern Internet resident in a clever, powerful way. After a generation of Internet users who have treated permanence and indexing as the cover charge for entering, there is a new group of people who have a real awareness that they might not want everything that they put on the web to be there forever.

We are entering a new phase of the development of the net, in which we can actually make some real choices about what we want to be indelible and what we want to dissipate into the digital ether after it’s served its purpose. Part of this is the simple age of the medium. The early days of the web were marked by enthusiasm and sharing — we all helped this grow.

Now, the machinery is in place and people like Edward Snowden have forced us to acknowledge publicly what we all felt in some secret crease of our cerebellum: privacy is for the luddite.

Secret taps into that, to a degree, especially along the ‘anonymous’ axis. Even though it’s very much ‘security psychology lite’, it still plucks threads attached to the same sensitive nerve clusters that tell us that everything we’ve ever said to a computer has been read by someone in a cubicle in Virginia somewhere.

It’s the fast-food to the square meal of TextSecure or Cryptocat or Telegram. These are apps built for Serious Things and Serious Discussions that we want to remain Private. Secret, by comparison, is frippery. But, as time and tide and McDonald’s have proven to us — the frilly, fatty edges of things are often those most consumed, while the healthy inward parts remain the domain of the health nuts.

Because it came along at the right juncture, and because it plays on our basest desires — I believe that Secret has a real possibility of popping its bubble in fairly good shape.

But even doing so is no guarantor of value or benevolence. Even if the founders have a sincere interest in making a platform where people can be honest, we all know how that turned out for the Internet. Our own Josh Constine asked some serious questions of Secret founder David Byttow in a SXSW panel about what the service is doing to mitigate cyber bullying and abuse and what it’s doing to make Secret a safe place — and I believe he was right to do so.

Personally, I got bored with Snapchat, Whisper, and Secret so I stopped using them. 

But I'm fascinated by the investors who believe they're worth a lot.

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