Fortune confirms that Secret's anti-bullying system doesn't work

By Paul Bradley Carr , written on August 8, 2014

From The News Desk

I'm shocked, shocked.

After Pando's report on Secret's callous attitude to teen bullying, the company insisted that they had procedures in place to ensure that victims are able to report abusive and libelous posts and have them immediately removed. They then went on a pathetic PR blitz, convincing the one friendly journalist they were able to find that all was well. Slobbered GigaOm's Mathew Ingram...

Secret’s co-founder says they care deeply

Is all of this invective justified? It’s difficult to see how. Like many other social networks and services — including Facebook — Secret seems to be paying as much attention to these issues as anyone. It has guidelines for its users, it allows for posts to be flagged and it removes violent content and other behavior, and so on.
But does it, really?

Fortune's Dan Primack decided to put the system to the test, posting deliberately libelous material about a fake student called 'Sophie' and her teacher "Mr Jacobs," and having colleagues report it using Secret's anti-bullying system.

Guess what? The system failed. Spectacularly. Not only was the post not removed immediately, but it remained live for hours while other users (including total strangers) piled into the comments. It also remained available for all to see online, via a public URL.

As Primack writes:

Obviously, this all is extremely troubling. We posted a message that was, by all objective accounts, an example of cyber-bullying. Were Sophie a real person using Secret, chances are that she would have seen it within 24 hours — given how it circulated among her “friends.” And Byttow isn’t claiming that Secret realized we were gaming the system. Instead, he acknowledged that the system failed. Moreover, the person who flagged the post had every reason to believe it had been removed, since it disappeared from her stream.

Secret needs to do better. And fast. Perhaps as fast as it’s growing. Primack is right: it is troubling. But, given founder David Byttow's laissez-faire attitude to the safety of his service's most vulnerable users, it's sadly not surprising.

Surely now the company's investors will demand action?