Sarahah App Exposed; Found to quietly upload address book

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Sarahah, a new app launched to let people post, as well as receive, anonymous feedback is on the radar for some mysterious activity they’re indulging in. After a lot of speculation though, the Sarahah app has been exposed, since it has been found that the app has been collecting more than just anonymous feedback.

Sarahah app

The online app, which jumped up to the top 3 section of most downloaded free software on both the Google and Apple PlayStore some time back, has been surging in popularity, with people from all age groups embracing the app and trying it out for themselves.

However, until recently, it was found that the app has been allegedly harvesting and uploading all phone numbers and email addresses from the users’ address book. In some cases, the Sarahah app does ask for the user’s permission to access contacts, but it does not disclose what the access is for or that it uploads such data.

Heart of the Matter

Sarahah app

When asked to comment on the issue, the app’s creator, Zain al-Abidin Tawfiq said in a tweet that the address book functionality is intended for a ‘find your friends feature’. He later said that the functionality was removed from the server and that Sarahah app stores no contacts in its databases; something which is impossible to verify.

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A lot of experts on the matter have said that this type of behavior is more common than most users would expect, especially when an app is free like Sarahah. Most of these experts believe that even if users are willing to trust a piece of software with their address book data, there are reasons to avoid trusting the internet servers associated with the app.

It’s not entirely clear what the Sarahah app uses uploaded contact lists for, although the app’s privacy policy states that it will not sell the information to third parties without prior and written consent unless it’s part of bulk data used for statistics and research.

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