There is a new iOS app called Vent devoted to letting people complain about their lives.
Like Whisper and Secret, you can post anonymously, though the app does require an email address (it’s not displayed publicly, but still), and you can choose to post your real name.
Vent has a slick interface and an inviting pitch: “Get it off your chest,” the app’s website reads. “Voice your opinion to our supportive community without the worry of being insulted or disrespected, de-friended or upsetting people you know.”
There’s not much difference between Vent and other anonymous/pseudonymous posting apps aside from its mission to provide a platform for complaints. So…it’s basically like a Secret that explicitly encourages people to gossip. Like YikYak, people are using it as an alternative to Whisper or Twitter, a status updating service
The app is potentially emotionally unhealthy is actually secondary to the real reason it is potentially hazardous. This app is designed to look benign, but it’s a combination of a fledgling digital burn book and an insecure digital diary. Neither of those things is good.
“We promote ourselves as being a safe environment where users can vent about anything (or anyone) that they wish, without their real world connections being affected,” founder Dean Serroni told me via email.
We consider when you post a Vent you are requesting us make this information public. This includes not only the Vents you post, but also the metadata provided with Vents, such as when and where you Vented, but also the people you follow, the Vents you mark as favourites or respond to, and many other bits of information that result from your use of Vent. Vent makes all the information you provide public for as long as you do not delete it from Vent. Your public information is broadly and instantly disseminated.
Students are using this app to air their private thoughts and it’s about as private as Twitter, which is to say, NOT PRIVATE.
Plus, secure servers or not, there’s always a chance an app like this could get hacked, especially if user growth outpaces developing a security team (something that happens with lots of apps that gain users quickly, like Snapchat).
Cyber Safety Cop does not recommend this social media app for minors. The lack of privacy and potential for abuse is too high to be safe for teens.