The app store describes it this way: “Ever wondered what the people around you are really thinking? Whisper is an online community where millions of people around the world share real thoughts, trade advice, and get the inside scoop. Chat directly with other Whisper users – it’s a great way to meet new people. Join the 30 million+ people who use Whisper every month; it will change the way you see the world.”
Terms and conditions specify that users must be 17 years of age or older to use Whisper. The app is exclusive to Android and Apple platforms. There is a desktop version of Whisper but it has limited functionality and it doesn’t allow you to post any Whispers.
How Does Whisper Work?
Users don’t have an identity when using the service. There are no followers, friends or profiles. The app does use people’s locations and allows users to add a school or group but it doesn’t ask for photos or email addresses. Users cannot use the search function to search for other users.
The primary way of communicating with someone on Whisper is by responding to their Whispers. This can be done by sending your own Whisper or through the chat function. It should be noted that it is much more difficult to maintain your anonymity through the chat or private messaging function.
Why Do Teens Want to Use Whisper?
The absence of an identity, above all else, attracts young adults as it gives them a sense of anonymity. The app allows users to set up a pin accessing the app, making parent supervision impossible if they don’t know the pin. Whispers was dubbed as a cross between Twitter and Snapchat, so it attracts an audience from both social media platforms.
Users can share intimate secrets without risking their identity being damaged or put at risk by the secret.
You will predictably have bullying, threats, and sexual exploitation whenever you have an anonymous social media platform. Predators are preying on emotionally needy children, and the Whisper app is all about being emotionally vulnerable to strangers.
Whisper also has had some serious privacy problems. In 2020, The Washington Post reported a massive user data exposure on the Internet. The data exposure, discovered by independent researchers and shown to The Washington Post, allowed anyone to access all of the location data and other information tied to anonymous “whispers” posted to the popular social app, which has claimed hundreds of millions of users.
Parental Controls or Monitoring
The app does not have parental controls but has a “Clean Language” setting. It is imperfect, allowing teens to encounter inappropriate slang or photos. Bark, our favorite parent monitoring app, is unable to monitor Whisper.
The Whisper App is not safe for children. A child should not use it for any reason.
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Clayton Cranford is a retired Sergeant from Orange County Sheriff's Department in California and owner of Total Safety Solutions LLC. Clayton is one of the nation’s leading law enforcement educators on social media, child safety, and behavioral threat assessments. Clayton is the author of the definitive book on cyber safety for families, “Parenting in the Digital World.” Clayton has more than 20 years of teaching experience and was awarded the 2015 National Bullying Prevention Award from the School Safety Advocacy Council, and the 2015 American Legion Medal of Merit.
Clayton was a member of the County's Behavioral Threat Assessment Team, Crisis Negotiation Team, School Resource Officer program, and Juvenile Bureau.