PostSecret Pulls iOS App Over Abusive Submissions

MacRumors

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Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
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The iOS app for the popular PostSecret blog has been removed by creator Frank Warren. In a blog post on Sunday, Warren laid out the unsurmountable problems with the app, as opposed to the standard PostSecret website.

On the website, anonymous users share their deepest secrets with the world by physically mailing a postcard to a Maryland address. In the app, however, users simply post anonymous messages via their iPhone. As with any anonymous forum on the Internet, malicious users come out of the woodwork to abuse the system, as Warren explained:
99% of the secrets created were in the spirit of PostSecret. Unfortunately, the scale of secrets was so large that even 1% of bad content was overwhelming for our dedicated team of volunteer moderators who worked 24 hours a day 7 days a week removing content that was not just pornographic but also gruesome and at times threatening.

Bad content caused users to complain to me, Apple and the FBI. I was contacted by law enforcement about bad content on the App. Threats were made against users, moderators and my family. (Two specific threats were made that I am unable to talk about). As much as we tried, we were unable to maintain a bully-free environment. Weeks ago I had to remove the App from my daughter's phone.

Like many of you, I feel a great sense of loss from this decision but please know that we fought hard behind the scenes to find a permanent solution. We even tried prescreening 30,000 secrets a day. Deciding to remove the App from the App Store last week and holding back the release of the Android version cost us money but we feel it was the right thing to do.
Warren notes that while the app is closed, the PostSecret blog and the traditional post card-based submissions are still being accepted via snail mail.

Article Link: PostSecret Pulls iOS App Over Abusive Submissions
 

Xenc

macrumors 65816
May 8, 2010
1,027
172
London, England
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People are stupid.
 

swb1192

macrumors 6502
Dec 4, 2007
255
0
Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 5_0_1 like Mac OS X; en_US) AppleWebKit (KHTML, like Gecko) Mobile [FBAN/FBForIPhone;FBAV/4.1;FBBV/4100.0;FBDV/iPhone4,1;FBMD/iPhone;FBSN/iPhone OS;FBSV/5.0.1;FBSS/2; FBCR/Verizon;FBID/phone;FBLC/en_US;FBSF/2.0])

Why not just remove the submission part of the app?
 

SandboxGeneral

Moderator emeritus
Sep 8, 2010
25,744
8,684
Detroit
Wow. That's despicable how people abuse things like that to post inappropriate and threatening things, which obviously, ruined it for the majority of people. :mad:
 

AppleRockerAlex

macrumors newbie
Jul 28, 2010
6
0
Cloud
Exactly

The idea of a 'managed' yet 'anonymous' forum on iOS is an expired pipe dream. Just look at the App Store Review system with it's nicknames rather than true Usernames or genuine emails, it's chock full of BS from all sides to the point of being a total joke.

Really hate to say this, but FaceBook has it right, be who you are. Say what you want and stand behind it.

If you don't want anyone to know what you're saying, or if what you're saying if a lie, violent, or breaking the law, perhaps you should shut up.
 

nagromme

macrumors G5
May 2, 2002
12,546
1,186
The idea of a 'managed' yet 'anonymous' forum on iOS is an expired pipe dream. Just look at the App Store Review system with it's nicknames rather than true Usernames or genuine emails, it's chock full of BS from all sides to the point of being a total joke.

Really hate to say this, but FaceBook has it right, be who you are. Say what you want and stand behind it.

If you don't want anyone to know what you're saying, or if what you're saying if a lie, violent, or breaking the law, perhaps you should shut up.
Agreed, up to a point; anonymity puts people on their worst behavior. Just look at online dating and drivers on the road! But Facebook’s (and Google’s) path is equally a pipe dream: you need anonymity if you’re speaking about those with power over you. Your boss, your government when corrupt (and there will always be instances where it is), anyone with enough money to make you suffer, anyone who wants to cover something up enough to make you suffer, etc.

Plus, Facebook goes one step further than just “be who you are”: they also gather and use info on who you are for profit. (As does Google, and nearly any free service including TV. And I think free services like that are a great option sometimes, but they have a downside.) Any time you put real info out there, you are offering value to companies to make use of it. Maybe not in ways you’d choose if you knew the details (and you probably never will). Is your private info usually abused? No, usually not... I would guess. But that’s not good enough.
 

dysamoria

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Dec 8, 2011
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Congratulations to the Internet for (repeatedly) reaffirming how horrifying human beings can be when given freedom from even basic consequences.
 

D.T.

macrumors G3
Sep 15, 2011
9,430
7,566
Vilano Beach, FL
Agreed, up to a point; anonymity puts people on their worst behavior.
Heck, look at this forum. There are people who absolutely would not - and do not - conduct themselves the same way they do when they're not anonymous and have no consequences to their actions (funny enough, it's usually these same people who say "I say the same thing online as I would to your face" ... umm, no, you wouldn't ...)

At least here (and on most forums) it's limited to petty bickering, calling out spelling errors and snarky comments. The fact the people involved in running the site got threats toward their family escalates things to a totally different level.

So unfortunate, and I'm sure that was horrific for him and his family.
 

Shrink

macrumors G3
Feb 26, 2011
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Congratulations to the Internet for (repeatedly) reaffirming how horrifying human beings can be when given freedom from even basic consequences.
Agee ^^^

See my signature. It's meant half in jest - but not always.
 

gkpm

macrumors 6502
Jul 15, 2010
481
4
Really hate to say this, but FaceBook has it right, be who you are. Say what you want and stand behind it.
You can have multiple profiles on Facebook all with some bogus background and photos. Just don't call them Mark Zuckerberg and you're good to go. Even on Google+.

Other than submitting your ID documents/DNA/fingerprint evidence it's impossible for these services to be sure everyone is who they say they are.

It's actually worse since they lend a false sense of authenticity to posts.

Mix this with a mass sockpuppet technology such as that revealed by emails from HBGary - the US.gov-linked security company cracked by Anonymous earlier last year - and you can imagine the sort of thing it can do.

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/02/16/945768/-UPDATED:-The-HB-Gary-Email-That-Should-Concern-Us-All
 

AustinIllini

macrumors demi-goddess
Oct 20, 2011
11,451
8,164
Austin, TX
I don't know what drives people to be trolls in numbers like that. It is a real shame, as most of those trolls are probably still good people with some kind of a vice that makes them act that way.
 

goofy1958

macrumors regular
Oct 7, 2011
156
20
Agreed, up to a point; anonymity puts people on their worst behavior. Just look at online dating and drivers on the road! But Facebook’s (and Google’s) path is equally a pipe dream: you need anonymity if you’re speaking about those with power over you. Your boss, your government when corrupt (and there will always be instances where it is), anyone with enough money to make you suffer, anyone who wants to cover something up enough to make you suffer, etc.
I am NOT picking on you, but just want people to know that the forums on an internet board aren't really the place to report gov't abuse, or rant about your boss.

Why not talk with your HR dept. or a friend about your boss? Why does it have to be posted in an on-line forum for all to see? Do you really need to rant that much? How about just go outside and scream for a bit to relieve the stress?

Corrupt gov't? There are plenty of legal avenues for reporting government abuse and corruption that don't involve your name in any way.

I see everyday on these boards where someone will post an opinion, and several folks will come on and bash that person for their opinion. It really is sad to see the utter nonsense that people will post nowadays.
 

Sardonick007

macrumors regular
May 18, 2011
238
2
Sad but true

People suck. Give them anonymity and they suck worse. Forums are a perfect example of places that punks can spout off against each other knowing full well that were it "real life" they'd be nursing a head injury. People are animals by nature and if you take away the reward or punishment motivation, they just revert to that animal instinct. Embarrassing to be part of it sometimes. That's why the best you can do, is be better.
 

Shrink

macrumors G3
Feb 26, 2011
8,931
1,598
New England, USA
I don't know what drives people to be trolls in numbers like that. It is a real shame, as most of those trolls are probably still good people with some kind of a vice that makes them act that way.
What kind of "vice" constitutes an excuse for behaving in a appalling, hateful manner.

I believe we should be judged by our actions. What, then, makes these "good" people? If I engage in hateful acts - how can I be a "good" person?
 

yadmonkey

macrumors 65816
Aug 13, 2002
1,243
706
Western Spiral
People suck. Give them anonymity and they suck worse. Forums are a perfect example of places that punks can spout off against each other knowing full well that were it "real life" they'd be nursing a head injury. People are animals by nature and if you take away the reward or punishment motivation, they just revert to that animal instinct. Embarrassing to be part of it sometimes. That's why the best you can do, is be better.
People do suck, but I love human beings. They look just like people, but try to do good because it feels right, hold their beliefs with some humility, and are considerate of others, even when anonymous. Their actions are too often drowned out by loud people, but human beings are more prevalent than it might at some times appear.
 

AustinIllini

macrumors demi-goddess
Oct 20, 2011
11,451
8,164
Austin, TX
What kind of "vice" constitutes an excuse for behaving in a appalling, hateful manner.

I believe we should be judged by our actions. What, then, makes these "good" people? If I engage in hateful acts - how can I be a "good" person?
One "bad" person says something mean, then maybe groupthink takes over. Groupthink is "a mode of thinking that people engage in when they are deeply involved in a cohesive ingroup, when the members' strivings for unanimity override their motivation to realistically appraise alternative courses of action". When you have complete anonymity and there is no perceivable consequence for one's actions, good people can be mean and downright hateful.
 

Shrink

macrumors G3
Feb 26, 2011
8,931
1,598
New England, USA
One "bad" person says something mean, then maybe groupthink takes over. Groupthink is "a mode of thinking that people engage in when they are deeply involved in a cohesive ingroup, when the members' strivings for unanimity override their motivation to realistically appraise alternative courses of action". When you have complete anonymity and there is no perceivable consequence for one's actions, good people can be mean and downright hateful.
While your point about "groupthink" is a reasonable one, to my way of thinking it does not absolve one of personal responsibility. Your point may explain explain some behavior (the actions of a mob), but it does not justify it.

Let me hasten to add that I am not suggesting it was your intent to justify this inexcusable behavior.:)
 

AppleRockerAlex

macrumors newbie
Jul 28, 2010
6
0
Cloud
Ok, prove it

Lots of nice talk about people some sucking and some people being good.

So let say we have a group of people who create an App, they put TONS of time, energy, money into their App. They are hard working people, with families, mortgages, food and health care bills, etc.

So, some jerk comes along and lies about their product, just beets on them.

Some 'good' people come along and read the lies, and DO NOTHING. Do they post a True Review? Do they try to HELP the people who are under attack? NO!

Sometimes we see those pictures of people in a public place being mugged, and others just walking by doing nothing, and we say, well, they were afraid they'd get hurt if they try to help. Well, you can't get hurt posting a true Review to offset a hurtful, evil, untrue review.

So, what's the deal?
 

zweigand

macrumors 6502a
Oct 19, 2003
596
32
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The answer to their problem was curation. Unfortunately they just didn't have the resources. Anonymity on the Internet always attracts the demented.
 

joelmcintosh

macrumors newbie
Jul 29, 2008
9
0
Austin, TX
The Trouble with "Open" and Uncurated Content ...

I think that story is more about curated vs. uncurated content. While I do not doubt the validity of Frank Warren's reasons for pulling the service, I think there may have been more to the story.

Frank's Postsecret blog publishes a few curated secrets each week. The content is poignant and heart felt ... and often gripping reading. However, the uncurated, anonymous nature of the Postsecret app made it fertile ground for kids whose "secret" was that they had a crush on a boy in 7th period, people whose secret was they who were eating too much fatty food, and kids who were jealous that some girl posted on a boyfriend's Facebook page. As the app increased in popularity, the typical post became increasingly frivolous ... and, as Frank explained, at times malicious.

In the end, the open, uncurated philosophical underpinnings of the app were causing it to unravel. On the other hand, the closed, curated philosophy of the Postsecret blog ensured quality content.

Sound familiar?
 

liquidrumors

macrumors newbie
Jul 14, 2009
13
0
I have been on the internet since the very beginning (yes I'm dating myself) I remember the dial up BBSs that were in the wild. Even back then we felt that anonymous was bad and that it would eventually be the undoing of the internet as people turned away from it. Luckily the internet has flourished but the anonymous sites are going away as Facebook takes over everything. I think this is good (you can still make fake profiles on Facebook) but I think in the future that we will need a type of ID before we can access the internet.

As we move toward cloud based computing providers can start to ask you to verify who you are before you get on their "Plane" and use their services.. its just a matter of time. Surprised its taken so long. Think about it you have to show id to get on a plane to prevent all sorts of things. The internet is no different if you have the skills you can cause the plane to wreck. Companies should protect users (passengers) from Cyber terror and all the other things that go with it..

Just thoughts thats all..
 

AppleRockerAlex

macrumors newbie
Jul 28, 2010
6
0
Cloud
Bbs

I probably shouldn't say this, but I used to run a very large BBS!

100% custom written in Apple DOS

Apple II+, Hayes MicroModem, 4 in-line Apple 5 1/4 Drives

Pirate Board, Phreaking, even sold Ads to the local Rock Radio Station!

This was before CompuServe, Prodigy, etc.

TEST! Who can tell me what "99e99" is and why it matters???
 

csjo00

macrumors regular
May 17, 2010
209
1
Arkansas
This was really disappointing when I heard and read this happened.

As an avid follower of Frank's website Postsecret, I bought the app.. It was pretty awesome and neat because you connected to hundreds of thousands of people anonymously via this little screen caps.

Then these two people started trolling/spamming the app with GRAPHIC "secrets" and Frank and the moderators for the app were unable to do anything except close down the app because of them.

Definitely one of the neatest things, I've ever took part in. It's really sad that these two posters, nicknamed Ontario and New Jersey because of the location that they posted from, had to ruin this for everyone.
 

Dionte

macrumors 6502a
Aug 29, 2011
541
43
Detroit
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A secret is no longer a secret as soon as you tell someone else.