Secret Update Removes Photo Library Access As It Faces Renewed Claims It Isn’t So Anonymous

Secret has a new update out for Android, with an iOS equivalent arriving sometime next week. The app changes include the addition of Flickr image search, which requires the “exchange” of the ability to use pics from your photo library, in a move clearly designed to limit users from sharing potentially damaging pics of people they know. You can still take a pic on the fly and share it, but you can’t dip into the archive, which could help stop users from sharing images of their exes in the buff, for instance.

Other updates going out in the new version include the ability to poll contacts via a “Yes or No” poll, as well as more new tools aimed at shoring up the potential for the anonymous social network to do damage to individuals and their reputations. The analyzing process implemented by Secret to detect names has been improved with the power to detect keyword, sentiment and photos of people who might also be questionable. The app will present its warning when it finds these new types of questionable content, and if the poster proceeds, the post will be flagged for review by Secret to make sure it’s safe.

Secret is also going a step further with its real name policy, and isn’t just warning users against posting, but is actively blocking posts with the names of individuals when it can, and are devoting resources to improving this aspect of its app.

These updates are timely, for a couple of reasons: First, Secret faces legal action in Brazil, where a judge has granted a temporary injunction against it being made available in either Google Play or the App Store. This has resulted in Apple blocking its availability in its mobile software store in order to comply with the order. The problem in Brazil was sparked by at least one user claiming that pictures of them were shared on the network by an anonymous poster, including their personal details, so the update here seems designed directly to address that through blocking of the camera roll and automatic detection and deletion of real name posts.

Second, Secret faces renewed scrutiny about the actual anonymity of its app after a new Wired report reveals that simple hacks (more like address book tricks) can reveal Secrets attached to a specific address book. Secret has responded already, saying it has plugged the gap, but the workaround resembles ones we’ve seen before, so it raises the question of whether a permanent solution will ever render posts anonymous in a lasting way. For its part, Secret says these exploits have never resulted in a significant outing of user identity, and they are always addressed as soon as they’re discovered.

The company has been pretty good about responding to issues quickly, which is key as it operates in clearly sensitive territory. The question that remains is whether it can stay out ahead of these recurring issues while also pushing the product forward in a meaningful way.