This is our Vision…
Written 31st January 2013
by Jay Feeney, Co-founder of Spraffl
It’s only been a week since our press launch, and we’ve already been inundated with messages of support from people who really get our new take on social media.
Therefore, I wanted to take this chance to offer a little more insight into our vision for Spraffl and Anonymous “So-Lo” Networking…
So firstly what is Spraffl?
Spraffl is a geo-social app that takes the self out of the social media equation. It introduces instant local networks where people can share ideas, gossip and connect without the ‘baggage of identity’ – in short it’s the first anonymous social local network.
But is it really a social network?
OK, so here’s the thing. I actually believe that Spraffl goes closer to the root of what a genuine social network should be: all about the content.
By stripping the identity, we strip the ego – we level the playing field. Suddenly the focus is on what is said and not who said it. After a while the content will become less about what people are “having for tea” but more about what is actually going on that is interesting.
By comparison, the conventional social network set up means that any statement I post will be associated with me by my friends. And, friends being friends, might feel obliged to like the fact that “I’ve just read a book” when in fact they couldn’t really give a damn. People on Spraffl will have no such tolerance and those kinds of posts will be ignored or disliked and the inclination to post them will fade.
All about local…
Facebook is all about building friend networks from all the places you’ve been. Twitter is all about broadcasting far and wide. Spraffl is all about posting to the people around you NOW (friends and strangers). So we can finally communicate with our neighbours and fellow peers without a prior connection – we’re instantly connected in the online world as we are in the offline world.
Anonymity is important on a hyper-local level…
On a hyper local level, anonymity becomes very important – unless you’re friends, the closer you are in proximity, the less likely you are to want to broadcast your profile, it’s almost like you’re opening yourself up to having your privacy invaded.
And let’s talk about the obvious negative uses…
It’s very easy to think that an anonymous social network will be used for bad things. But just stop and think for minute.
These are the issues we keep coming across so let’s tackle them one by one…
Trolling – to me a Troll is either a) someone who just spoils the fun or b) someone who tries to appear as someone else. I believe the latter will be very difficult to do on a network where EVERYBODY is a stranger. We’re all in the same position and hence we’ll all be very cautious about who and what we reveal in the same way we should be in any online community. With Spraffl there is no identity to hide behind.
As for the first type of trolling, we stamp this out by introducing group moderation. If someone constantly offends or irritates the group, they’ll soon find themselves locked out of the app. To clarify, if a certain number of Spraffers flag a post or comment as offensive, it disappears, and the person who posted it gets a warning – three warnings and you’re locked out!
Seedy dating possibilities – Good luck with that – Spraffl has no profile and no history. There are plenty of other apps that facilitate those kind of things in a much better way. Spraffl on the other hand will be great for harmless flirting with no real consequence.
Libellous posting and false rumour spreading – This is a very newsworthy subject, and there are recent cases of people using false or empty profiles to post malicious or liable content.
However, there’s a big difference between part anonymity and anonymity. Twitter allows me to build a following and a legacy – in turn this could develop into some level of authority (i.e. my followers might start trusting my tweets over a period of time). Spraffl has no legacy and no individual following. And when we post on Spraffl, we’re not broadcasting to a wide area. We’re posting a geo-tagged statement which may or may not be trusted by others around – everything taken with a pinch of salt.
It’s when others join the conversation when certain things can be backed up or verified. For example if I say that “this bar is rocking” – people may initially assume that it was posted by the bar – it’s only when others join in and say, “yes, I’m here too” when it becomes validated. The same could be said for rumour spreading.
So that’s our thoughts. What do you think?
To bring this conversation into reality, here are a few real use cases:
- Mexican Spraffers have begun using Spraffl to point out dangerous areas of criminal and gang activity
- Hospital Spraffers have used Spraffl to receive anonymous comfort and support
- Travelling Spraffers have used Spraffl to gather local “on the ground” travel updates
- Shopping Spraffers have used Spraffl to share offers and stock information
- And single Spraffers have even used Spraffl for first date recommendations!!
Not bad for just a few weeks of Spraffing!
Our challenge is clear. We need to bring on a critical mass to ensure the app grows and becomes more active over the weeks and months. We’ll give it everything we have and we’re blessed that we have received so much support from our users – we can only achieve this together.