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Friday, August 22, 2014, 03:18 pm PT (06:18 pm ET)

Secret app to restrict photo uploads, block posts with real names in update

Anonymous social networking app Secret on Friday announced a number of changes to be introduced in its next update, including photo upload limitations and more aggressive restrictions on using real names in posts.




Secret says the forthcoming update, set for release next week, is meant to dissuade unwanted behavior, presumably meaning anonymous personal attacks.

To help in the push for a more friendly experience, Secret will be updated with Flickr integration for a more robust set of background images, but in exchange users will be prohibited from using photos from their Camera Roll. Personalized backgrounds are still encouraged, however, and users can still upload posts with photos taken in real-time with the in-app camera.

Buried as the last change, but perhaps most important, Secret outlines new rules on using names in posts:
We've learned that the vast majority of great secrets don't have names in them, and the few that do usually aren't productive and can even be harmful. We've changed our position on the use of real names and, in addition to discouraging their use, we're actively blocking posts containing names of private individuals whenever possible. We will invest heavily here to make sure the system improves over time.

Since launch, Secret's backend service has analyzed posts for names, but the company says its monitoring system has become sophisticated enough to detect "keywords, sentiment, and photos of people." If a violation of network guidelines is discovered, Secret urges users to "re-think" the content before posting. Reviews are conducted automatically, but in some cases human team members will take a look at questionable posts.

Finally, the upcoming version will also add a polling feature that turns posts into an interactive "Yes or No" question that plots answers on a simple circular graph. As posts can quickly spread across the network, Secret envisions polling to be a quick and powerful tool for near real-time feedback.

In related news, Secret is at the center of a kerfuffle in Brazil, where a judge banned the app from the iOS and Android app stores over concerns of anonymous cyber-bullying. Citing Article 5 of Brazil's constitution, which prohibits anonymous freedom of expression, the jurist gave Apple and Google ten days to remove Secret from their respective digital storefronts and remotely wipe the app from devices within the country.

Apple reportedly complied with the order by pulling the app from Brazil's App Store yesterday, but it is unclear if the company is willing to remotely disable already installed versions.

While new Secret for iOS will roll out next week, the current iteration is available as a free 16.6MB download from the iOS App Store.