An app that allows you to anonymously ask your friends questions on Instagram has gone viral

NGL, which allows users to solicit anonymous messages and send them, is growing in popularity on Instagram, particularly among young people.

NewsEditor
NewsEditor
05 July 2022 Tuesday 17:21
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An app that allows you to anonymously ask your friends questions on Instagram has gone viral

NGL, which allows users to solicit anonymous messages and send them, is growing in popularity on Instagram, particularly among young people.

NGL is shorthand for "not going to lie" on social media. It is a more recent version of the anonymous "ask anyone anything" format. This is one of the most recent iterations for the anonymous "ask me anything" tool that teens have been using on social media for over a decade. NGL-like apps, which are anonymous, have been subject to bullying in the past decade.

NGL allows teens use the app via Instagram. Users post questions to their stories, and their followers reply anonymously. Users will often post links to their NGL Inboxes to their Instagram accounts and ask their followers to anonymously send them questions or comments.

The app, which claims to be "a new take on anonymity", has language filters that are intended to stop harassment. NBC News discovered that certain phrases made it through.

NBC News was able to filter out slurs, such as "KYS," and other terms like "kill yourself." The language filters let messages that contained more common bullying terms, such as "You are fat", "Everyone hates" and "You are ugly," through. After being flagged for inappropriate language, users who sent messages with slurs were not prohibited from sending further messages.

NGL has been contacted by NBC News for comment about its screening filters.

According to the NGL website, anonymity is a safe and fun place for people to share their feelings without shame. "Young people don’t have a safe space to express their feelings without being judged by friends or society pressures. NGL offers teens this safe space."

App store descriptions offer similar language about safety.

The description says, "We use deep learning and rule-based character matching algorithms to filter out bullying and harmful language." "Ultimately, we believe anonymity works only when it is safe!"

It works by linking to an individual's Instagram account. After the app is linked to an Instagram account a user can use NGL to request anonymous messages from followers.

You can edit the prompt to ask any question you wish.

According to NGL's website, NGL launched in November. It launched on iOS in December according to Apptopia (a platform that tracks data from app stores). The app was launched on Google Play in May.

Apptopia estimates that there have been 7.3 million global app downloads, but that only 7.27 million of the app's lifetime downloads occurred this month. Apptopia discovered that NGL rose to the top in U.S. App Store downloads between June 13 and June 16. It climbed from 355th to first during that time.

According to Apptopia, 35 percent of all NGL downloads are from the United States. This has resulted in about $500,000 in In-App Purchases.

According to the app's website, it was launched by "a small group of designers and engineers from Venice Beach, California."

NGL's format is reminiscent to platforms of the late 2000s and 2010s like Formspring (later rebranded Spring.me and Ask.fm), where users could anonymously ask questions.

These platforms, no matter how well-intentioned they may be, can often lead to bullying or harassment.

TechCrunch reports that Snapchat has suspended anonymous question-answering apps after being sued by parents whose children died of suicide due to bullying on anonymous apps.

Kristin Bride brought a lawsuit claiming that Carson, her 16-year old son, committed suicide after he was bullied via anonymous messaging apps such as Yolo or LMK. It asked that these types of apps be removed from Snapchat.

Snap spokesperson referred to March's news release in which the platform stated it would "prohibit applications that facilitate anonymous messaging from integrating into our platform", in response to the lawsuit.

"As a consequence of that review in March, we announced several changes in our developer platform that are in the best interests of our community and further aligned to our focus on supporting communications that reflect real life friendships," a Snapchat spokesperson stated in an email.

TechCrunch, however, reported May that the platform had not yet begun to enforce the ban. Snap spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment on the TechCrunch report.

NGL claims that it uses "world-class AI content moderation" to discourage bullying. NGL claims that it understands the lingo and can filter out harmful messages.

NGL states on its website that, unlike previous anonymous question apps users can now block others if they are harassed or bullied. You can report abusive messages and block senders using the app.

It doesn't seem to have any community guidelines. It states that these guidelines will be available soon on its website.

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