When we share our deepest, most intimate, feelings and emotions, we want to feel safe and secure. We don’t want to feel threatened or self conscious. VoxHumans uses a new and different model of anonymous user interaction to create this safe environment.
Anonymity has a long history and comes with many benefits and challenges.
Anonymity provides a shield that hides the defining aspects of our identity – status, gender, race, age, etc. By being anonymous, individuals can express their true feelings, without being self conscious or judged by others. Historically, this has allowed individuals to express unpopular opinions at variance with the rest of society. The shield of anonymity has protected sources disclosing illegal activities. Sometimes individuals have used anonymity to create and try different personas as they explore their minds and personalities.
These benefits come with many challenges. Because a human face is missing from an anonymous exchange, anonymity can promote loss of inhibition, empathy and incivility. Without identity it can be difficult to control illegal activities. Some can use anonymity to establish misrepresentations. Not least, it can make it difficult to establish trust and get credit for contributions.
A VoxHumans user is anonymous and can begin using the App immediately after downloading. No signup with an email or phone number is required or offered. The user can create a Vox – a post of their feeling at that moment. Each Vox is automatically grouped by one of 24 different emotion hashtags (#), e.g., Happy, Sad, Trust, Disgust, Fear, Anger, Surprise, Anticipation, etc. When posted, that Vox becomes visible to other users in the vicinity, i.e., Nearby, and to users who have previously posted with the same emotion #, i.e., Subscription.
Any user can flag a Vox for inappropriate content. Flagging a Vox sends it to a human Moderator for review. The Moderator can delete the Vox if it contains one of several categories of disallowed content. By doing so, the Moderator can make sure only approved content is visible to all.
When users respond to a Vox, they each start a 1–1 Dialog with the user that posted the Vox. Dialogs are visible to everyone, but only the pair engaging in the Dialog can continue their conversation. No other user can interject in their 1–1 Dialog. The user that posted the Vox has full control of all Dialogs. So if another user posts hostile or belligerent replies in response to the Vox, the user that posted the Vox can “End the Dialog”. There is no way for the harassing user to then follow the original user that posted the Vox, since all users are anonymous.
Through this interaction model, VoxHumans captures the benefits of anonymity while mitigating the challenges of anonymity.