This past weekend the PostSecret iPhone app was shuttered due to abusive and malicious content being posted by anonymous users. This is a unique occurrence, since this is the first app being pulled for the actions of users as opposed to a lack of developmental interest.
PostSecret is a public art project started by Frank Warren in 2005. The premise of the project is that people decorate a postcard with a secret previously never revealed, mail it to Frank, and he posts 20 submissions to the site every Sunday. Frank’s growing collection has also lead to a number of PostSecret Books being published. Not surprisingly, there are a number of EMS themed secrets that can be found throughout both.
I had the opportunity to meet Frank Warren a number of years ago at a Barnes & Noble in Brooklyn where he gave a stirring presentation about the project. To say the place was jammed is an understatement, and is a testament to both the popularity of the project and the holistic healing participating can have on a person. Frank has said that closing the app “pains” him, and I have no reason to doubt that there is a physical manifestation of that.
This is, ultimately, the high price that must be paid for anonymity. As we continue to move forward with more and more networks requiring “authenticity” and “real” names, will anonymity disappear?
It is this very anonymous nature that powers PostSecret to begin with. To lose that would mean the project wouldn’t be as enticing… or honest.
What do you think about the price of anonymity? Is it a luxury or a necessity for an open/honest internet?