Aliases and fake names were supposed to be on their way out on Facebook. Turns out that they're making a comeback elsewhere and Facebook seems to be considering cashing in on this return to anonymity.
Anonymity apps like Secret and Whisper are gaining popularity. Tech website Re/code said Facebook wants to build a Secret-like app and has gotten in touch with Secret. Reports that Facebook wants to acquire Secret for $100 million are inaccurate, however.
Re/code said the acquisition rumors could be driven by Facebook's aggressive mergers and acquisition strategy that has seen it acquire WhatsApp for $19billion and virtual reality gaming firm Oculus for $2 billion in the space of one month. Word is that Facebook first wants to test the waters of the anonymity space.
If proven true, this switch to anonymity would betray Facebook's mantra of online civility made possible by users using their real names instead of aliases.
Reports surmise that Facebook might build certain apps that do not require a user to attach his existing profile, and that can be accessed without using real names.
"It would, of course, be deeply ironic if Facebook moved in that direction," said Clive Thompson, author of "Smarter Than You Think: How Technology Is Changing Our Minds For The Better.
"Facebook's promise was that if people signed up with their real name, the quality of everyday discourse would be better."
Whisper is a free iOS and Android mobile app that allow users to send messages anonymously and receive replies. Secret is an iOS app that enables users to share messages anonymously within their circle of friends, friends of friends and publicly. It differs from other anonymous sharing apps such as Whisper in that it is intended for sharing primarily with friends.