The TBH Phenomenon | Frank Yang

The TBH Phenomenon

by Frank Yang

With the evolution of social media apps such as Facebook, Yik-Yak, Sarahah, and now “TBH”, teenagers today crave anonymity while getting to know their friends at school. The TBH app, short for “To be honest”, is the latest trending teenage social app, reaching #1 in the app store for free downloads.

The app is easy and simple to use: users are classified by their school, gender, and grade and answer polls within a limited amount of time, clicking one of the four names of friends and classmates provided from their contact list. The TBH app bases these polls off of a yearbook superlative format, with taglines such as “going to win an Academy Award” or “smarter than google”. When you’re picked, the sender is displayed as anonymous unless you request for their identity by replying to the question, motivating users to become more in touch with each other through the app.

More importantly, the TBH app is heavily monitored in order to avoid cyberbullying and improve its focus on positivity. Superlatives and other questions may be submitted by users, but only 1% of those 10,000 submissions are approved for the app. Although most of the submitted proposals contain a good sense of humor that allows the app to be more engaging, potential complaints and harassment threats as a result of these questions are evaluated very seriously.

According to a spokesperson for the TBH app, the app is currently released in 9 states and is especially gaining popularity in California, with approximately 25% of students in the state downloading the app. TBH also has 2 million daily active users across the United States and 150 million messages already sent through the app’s new features, with that number growing as more test releases are conducted in other states. Recently, Facebook announced its acquisition of the TBH app, stating that it will operate independently from the Facebook brand but will work together with TBH developers to advance TBH’s vision of spreading compliments and improving the mental health of teenagers. As the TBH startup said, “While the last decade of the internet has been focused on open communication, the next milestone will be around meeting people’s emotional needs.”