China anonymous-confession app Mimi stirs concerns about ethics, bullying

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 09 April, 2014, 7:11pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 10 April, 2014, 8:10am

A free phone app that lets users anonymously confess secrets, from extramarital affairs to invasions of a loved one’s privacy, earned as much criticism as it has fans in China since its launch two weeks ago.

Developed by Shenzhen-based Wumii Technology Limited, Mimi (which means “secret” in Chinese) encourages users to share their innermost thoughts without fear of being exposed, according to its description.

Users can log on using a cellphone number, then will be led to a screen where they can either post messages, read other people’s posts and comment or “like” them. But the app only shows messages from other Mimi users in the person’s phone book.

“I slept with my investor. I am a guy, and so is he,” one post reads.

“I check my boyfriend’s e-mails and WeChat messages daily,” another says.

Many have pointed out that the app bears strong similarities to US-made application Secret. Nevertheless, the app has enjoyed some success since its debut on app stores, where it was downloaded more than 1,000 times on Android alone.

But Mimi did not sit well with netizens who think it encourages negativity and irresponsible behaviour. Others believe it can be a platform for online bullying.

Wang Guanxiong, a venture capital investor and influential opinion leader with more than one million followers on Weibo, said he was pessimistic about the app’s future.

“By allowing users to comment anonymously, it encourages people to throw irresponsible accusations at each other and engage in a war of words,” Wang said.

“According to Chinese law, neither the police nor the app developer will be able to protect users from being verbally abused,” he said. “Things might get even uglier considering the general hostile tendency of China’s online quarrels.”

Wumii Technology did not respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.