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ChronicleMe: An Anonymous Social Network Built in Syracuse

ChronicleMe: An Anonymous Social Network Built in Syracuse

After receiving troubling family news in his dorm room at Phillips Exeter Academy, Anthony Richichi did what many young people do: he went to a social network forum for support. He wanted to release his anxiety and to get support from his Facebook friends. However, the worry that the entire story of his family issue would be exposed to the viral nature of the internet made him hold back.

Social networks are designed to be a place where people can freely express themselves, but they are not. Richichi said, “We, as social media users, seldom express authenticity and vulnerability because we fear the repercussions. We post what others want to see. We are told who to be and when to be. We have lost control of our own expression. ” Richichi wanted to solve this dilemma, and ChronicleMe is the answer he has provided.

ChronicleMe is a brand new social media concept that allows users to share their innermost thoughts, secrets and confessions in a completely anonymous environment where users can decide when and to whom they want to reveal themselves.

Not only ChronicleMe.com, but also it's employees devote into supportive campaigns.

Not only ChronicleMe.com, but also it’s employees devote into supportive campaigns.

Unlike traditional social networks like Facebook and Twitter, where people try to build as many connections as possible by the superficial showcase of their individualism, ChronicleMe devotes itself to develop a supportive environment in which people can frankly express their happiness and sorrow with their anonymity protecting them. But anonymity is not a fixed option on Chronicle me. Users have the ability to reveal themselves to select members, based on matching criteria. The reveal function also gives users a chance to build firm connections with others since people can always have a chance to know each other more before deciding to connect.

A study conducted in 2009 for The Economist discovered that people with about 500 Facebook friends had actual interaction such as leaving comments or chatting with an average of just 17 friends for men and 26 for women. It’s not surprising that people fear showing real feelings on social networks since most of their “friends” are people they know nothing about. The nearly zero privacy on traditional social networks also brings about other concerns. “Can you imagine that your deans, parents, future employers, cyber bullies and college admission offices reading your chronicle with unnecessary and unfair scrutiny?” said Richichi

Though having anonymous characteristics, ChronicleMe isn’t positioning itself as an “anonymous social network.” “We are a positive, authentic social network,” said Richichi “Whisper and Secret, along with ask.fm, Rumr, and Yik Yak, provide [their] users with the freedom of anonymity, meaning users can say whatever they want and about whomever they want without consequences.”

Actually, nine teenage suicides in 2012 had something to do with cyberbullying on Ask.fm. Yik Yak was forced to close its doors to all U.S. middle schools and high schools due to bullying and threats of violence. Richichi believes that simply making everybody anonymous doesn’t make traditional social networks better places for people to express themselves. “These companies encrypt their secrets so they themselves cannot retrieve identities, giving users complete and utter free reign to cyberbully, engage in criminal activity, and manipulate others to expose their identity,” he said.

In order to address cyberbullying, ChronicleMe developed some really outstanding features. Users can post things anonymously under ChronicleMe’s filter system, which filters all the important information about the user. Users can also chose to expose their identity when they feel comfortable. Additionally, users can remain anonymous or reveal themselves when giving feedback to others’ posts. Both parties need to consent to break anonymity before a conversation can take place through the chat feature.

ChronicleMe also has another distinctive “score” function which offers a brand new user experience unlike anonymous social networks before like Whisper and Secret. By deciding if each post is appropriate or not, users can help to exclude content supposed to be in a supportive environment. “If your post receives too many inappropriate feedbacks, then your score will go down. This score will always correspond with you,” said Bertrand Bai, ChronicleMe’s head designer, “Also, unlike the traditional ‘likes’ and ‘dislikes,’ which only shows you the count number, the color indicator of inappropriate post will be diluted, which makes it easier for users to avoid select posts.”

Though ChronicleMe is a virtual social network, it also wants to build the connection between its users and the real world. ChronicleMe works with different life-saving organizations that are eager to help people in need. The “Seek Help” feature can lead ChronicleMe’s users to the resource page where they can contact organizations that joined ChronicleMe, such as the National Sexual Assault Hotline, GLBT National Help Center, End of Cyber Bullying Organization and others.

Now, Richichi is working with ChronicleMe’s engineers and designers to finalize the desktop version of ChronicleMe. If everything goes well, ChronicleMe will be launched at the end of November.

“ChronicleMe is a project that will not only change social media, but also provide millions of people with the tools to get help, give others support, and raise awareness. We are vastly different than today’s anonymous social media companies. We pride ourselves on our wholesomeness and for providing a safe, positive and judgment-free online community. This is simply absent on the internet today,” said Richichi.

About The Author

Bing Bai

Master of Science in New Media Management

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