New secret messages app raising fears of cyberbullying - WNEM TV 5

New secret messages app raising fears of cyberbullying

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Source: CBS Source: CBS
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It may already be on your teenager’s smart phone.

A new app called Sarahah is currently sitting at No. 1 on the iTunes chart. It allows anyone with the link to send or receive anonymous texts to those registered.

“Basically, because people are afraid to go up to other people and say how they really feel about each other,” said 15-year-old Melanie Pastor.

There is no way of knowing who posted the comments and no way to respond to the message.

The app was initially created by a Saudi developer who was worried about workplace discrimination.

"It started out with a good purpose so people can expose bosses mistreating certain employees, but when it goes into the wrong hands it goes from something positive to something negative, like cyberbullying,” Rosanna Pastor said.

The app can now be integrated into Snapchat, and has become a serious lure for teenagers.

“It's very important for parents to talk to their kids all the time about new apps and new ways of communication so that they don’t abuse it,” Alane Fagin said.

Fagin says cyberbullying is only part of the reason why the suicide rate among girls between the ages of 15 and 19 reached a 40-year high.

She said most teens are responsible with social media.

“People should be accountable for what they say. It's very important for people to know who says it. There should be consequences if you just post random stuff,” said 16-year-old Christopher Vazquez.

If Vazquez remains on the Honor Roll he gets to keep his smartphones and apps, but his mom has parental rules.

“There is no bullying allowed, you cannot post anything that would be hurtful or destructive to anybody else,” Regina Schroeder said.

How does she supervise that?

“I keep the codes to their phones so I can randomly go onto their phones,” Schroeder said.

Copyright 2017 CBS News. All rights reserved. 

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