Unface.Me: An Anonymous Social Network with Your Real Friends

June 23, 2013

1:00 pm

Remember that time we devoted five years to watching a loose group of high school friends develop into a close-knit (albeit complicated) family? Also, remember that part when it was all thanks to an anonymous eccentric with the absolute best intentions? I am, of course, talking about Gossip Girl, and it is actually the inspiration behind unface.me.

Unface.me is leading the movement in developing closer relationships, with a revolutionary idea: an anonymous social network of real-life friends. Keeping secrets (whether it’s about a friend or about yourself) is innately human. We do it for several reasons, such as fear of rejection or shame about our thoughts and opinions. But, ultimately, it harms both our mental stability and our relationships with the people closest to us.

The world has changed, and it is important for us to face certain realities: 1) there’s a greater reliance on technology; 2) this has led to significantly less face-to-face (or even just voice) interactions; 3) even when such interactions occur, rarely are they wholly honest conversations; and 4) this leaves most of us desperately resorting to the web to engage in anonymous discussion boards or to create alias Twitter accounts just to be heard.

The founders at unface.me know this, they know that anonymous social networking is an emerging market, and they want to utilize these changes in social behavior to improve our relationships with the people we already know.

“We think that anonymity is the only way to discuss some topics, and it helps people to express true feelings. Anonymity loosens up [inhibitions] and for some people, it is the only way to socialize,” says cofounder Dmitrii Ponomarev.

The general idea behind unface.me: engage in anonymous and truthful discourse with people you already know. This is done by connecting your Facebook account to an unface.me alias (“AlterEgo”) that you create, and then interacting with other users from your current network of friends who also have AlterEgos.

How can this be used toward forming better relationships? Well, for one thing, it will allow users to be completely honest about themselves. A lot of topics are difficult to talk about (such as one’s mental health) and have potential professional consequences (not getting hired because of a history of depression). Unface.me can give people this medium for expressing their emotions or thoughts honestly, without fear of people knowing their true identity.

This anonymity also allows for the changing of personal behaviors and the development of overall empathy. As people learn sensitive things about their friends, they may become more socially aware of and self-identifying with the daily struggles of others, and thereby change their day-to-day behaviors or interactions with them. So, the result? Closer bonds with those around us.

We don’t have to sacrifice honesty in the age of social media. If Dan Humphrey was able to pull off complete anonymity for five years and end up with a closer set of friends, why shouldn’t we? Try out unface.me for yourself.

Unface.me is a showcasing startup at our Tech Cocktail San Diego mixer on June 27 – join us!

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Ronald Barba was the previous managing editor of Tech.Co. His primary story interests include industry trends, consumer-facing apps/products, the startup lifestyle, business ethics, diversity in tech, and what-is-this-bullsh*t things. Aside from writing about startups and entrepreneurship, Ronald is interested in 'Doctor Who', Murakami, 'The Mindy Project', and fried chicken. He is currently based in New York because he mistakenly studied philosophy in college and is now a "writer". Tweet @RonaldPBarba.

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