PostSecret has been around since the earliest days of the Internet. The online collaborative art project allows people to anonymously submit secrets on postcards to share online. Multiple PostSecret books have been made from the submission, but while the site has flourished on the web, it appears it was too hot for the App Store, as PostSecret founder Frank Warren has said they will be pulling the PostScret app because of problems with online bullying.
Over on the official PostScret blog, Warren explains the decision to remove the app from the App Store:
It pains me to announce that the PostSecret App is now closed. In some ways, this is because of its success. It reached the top-selling spot in the App Store and users shared over 2 million creative secrets.
Like the PostSecret Blog, the App was designed so each secret was absolutely anonymous. Unfortunately, that absolute anonymity made it very challenging to permanently remove determined users with malicious intent.
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.
Warren goes on to say that his team of moderators tried to pre-screen the 30,000 submissions a day, but simply couldn’t handle it.
It’s sad that a few bad apples, &c. It seems, though, PostSecret has found that by jumping into the App Store, they ceased to be a site and instead became a service. It’s the difference between Cult of Mac and Facebook: a service leads to a whole new set of moderation problems, and requires the whole venture to evolve to cope. Instead of evolving, PostSecret is instead pulling back and staying true to its roots. That’s understandable, but it would seemingly open the door to a competitor who isn’t afraid to be a service, and can figure out a smart way of making sure content is moderated; crowd-sourcing, perhaps?
Correction: The original headline said the FBI was “investigating” the app. PostSecret’s founder Frank Warren reached out to Cult of Mac to clarify that the FBI had just fielded complaints about the app, and it was not under investigation. We apologize for the misunderstanding, and thank PostSecret for reaching out for clarification.