A new anonymous blogging and commenting bot has appeared on the encrypted chat app Telegram — and it has some interesting potential applications for journalists.
Secretgram “helps you to create a post with anonymous comments in your Telegram channels and groups.” But it also appears to create a post that anyone can comment on anonymously — if they know the URL.
This could be particularly useful is in situations where you might be part of a chat group involving various people within an industry or area, and want to offer a way for participants to share experiences or questions without their identity being known to others.
Another use case is anonymous blogging more generally. If a source wants to send information this offers a way to do so without having to register for a blogging account, and with the ability to delete content after it has been seen (comments can be used to acknowledge receipt).
How to use Secretgram
Secretgram isn’t the easiest thing to use at first, so here’s a brief outline of how it works.
First you need to add the bot to your chats: search for @secretgrambot on Telegram to add it as a contact.
Next, open up the chat with the Secretgram bot and press ‘Start’.
Create a title for your page, and click Publish.
Although it isn’t made clear, a post has now been created online hosted on the secretgram.me domain. This will have the title that you entered, plus an area for comments and a link to open the discussion in Telegram. How do you find the post? Click View Comments and it will begin to open the page in your browser (it will prompt you first).
Back in your chat with the Secretgram bot, clicking Publish allows you to ‘publish’ your post to other chats within Telegram. Other users will then see a link to a secret chat, and can add their own comments through Telegram itself.
You can also delete a post at any time by returning to your chat with the Secretgram bot and tapping ‘delete’.
By way of example, here’s an anonymous post I’ve created within Telegram where reporters could post experiences of unethical behaviour. In the Write a comment… section anyone can type a reply directly into the webpage.
More broadly, the feature is yet another example of Telegram being ahead of other chat platforms, and another reason — alongside its broader bot capability — why I prefer it above WhatsApp.
If you have any other ideas for ways this feature could be used, please get in touch.