Tellonym

App review by
Neilie Johnson, Common Sense Media
Tellonym App Poster Image
Anonymous messenger ripe for cyberbullying, hurt feelings.

Parents say

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Educational Value

Created for entertainment and not intended for learning.

Ease of Play

Registration and interface are simple; without contacts though, there's not much you can do. 

Violence

No violence in the app itself, but violent content and threats could be sent anonymously. Users report being told to kill themselves. 

Sex

No sexual content in the app itself, but links to Snapchat and Instagram mean suggestive photos could be shared and sexual content sent anonymously. 

Language

None in the app, and users can block up to 10 words; other than that, user messages can contain any kind of bad language. 

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

None in the app, but user-generated messages and imagery could contain references to drugs, alcohol, and smoking. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Tellonym is an app designed for older teens that lets users leave anonymous comments for other users. People can register using either an email or a phone number and can search for friends via phone contact lists. The app can be linked to Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat accounts, which means inappropriate messages can be accompanied by inappropriate visual content (images containing references to sex, drugs, violence, alcohol, or smoking). Users can block other users and can set a filter to block messages containing specific words. They can also report inappropriate messages through a built-in reporting system. With anonymity as the point of the app, the potential for cyberbullying is high. As with many apps like this, the terms of service aren't consistent: In some places it's indicated that a teen must be 17 to download and in others the requirement is 13. Read the developer's privacy policy for details on how your (or your kids') information is collected, used, and shared and any choices you may have in the matter, and note that privacy policies and terms of service frequently change.

User Reviews

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What's it about?

TELLONYM  lets you "answer anonymous questions and ask others the things you have never dared before." People register using an email address or a phone number, indicate whether they're under or over 16 (though the app store says you must be 17 to download it), and then search for friends by username or phone contact list. User profiles contain one photo (though many more can be seen by linking the app to Snapchat, Twitter, and Instagram), and users can follow each other and send each other anonymous messages. A home feed displays all messages addressed to a user, and push notifications alert users whenever a new message or "tell" is delivered. Users can block and report people who send hurtful or harassing messages and can set a filter that recognizes words the user determines.

Is it any good?

With online anonymity increasing the likelihood of callousness and cruelty, anonymous messaging is a questionable concept at best, especially for kids. Though there's some potential for fun in guessing who's messaging you -- the app store's tagline reads "See who likes you" -- there's just as much potential for finding out who doesn't. Users in app store reviews report being harassed repeatedly, told they're ugly, and that they should "kill themselves." The developers admit Tellonym allows anonymous, unregistered users to send messages, and that while these messages can be policed and/or blocked, that's generally only after the damage has been done. It's all too easy to send insulting or threatening messages to other people or make them feel unwanted. And though Tellonym claims its simple text-based approach and in-house monitoring reduce the possibility of cyberbullying, the app's ability to link to more diverse social media apps like Snapchat and Twitter more or less cancel out that claim. With two million registered users and the promise of anonymity, Tellonym is an obvious temptation for shy kids and teens; unfortunately, the app's potential for encouraging meanness and clique-ishness make it the last kind of app kids should use. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why anonymous apps like Tellonym can cause problems. Though anonymity might save you some embarrassment, what kind of harm might it do? 

  • Discuss strategies for countering online bullying. What kinds of tools do your favorite apps offer to prevent harassing behavior? 

  • Think about internet security and connecting multiple accounts. What are the risks of connecting every social media app you download? 

App details

  • Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android
  • Price: Free
  • Pricing structure: Free
  • Release date: August 19, 2017
  • Category: Lifestyle
  • Size: 39.70 MB
  • Version: 2.2.3
  • Minimum software requirements: iOS 9.0 or later; Android 4.1 and up

For kids who love social networking

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