What is NGL? The anonymous messaging app that’s taking over Instagram

1st July, 2022.      //   Market Intelligence, Technology  // 

NGL: anonymous q&a - Apps on Google Play

NGL, an app that lets users solicit and send anonymous messages, is gaining enormous popularity on Instagram, especially among young people.

NGL, which is a social media shorthand for “not gonna lie,” is a newer iteration of the anonymous “ask me anything” format. It’s among the latest iterations of the “anonymous question” tools that teens have used on social media for more than a decade. In that decade, NGL-like apps have had issues with bullying because of the anonymity of the platforms.

NGL allows teens to use the app through Instagram, where users post questions on their stories and followers respond anonymously. Typically, users will post links to their NGL inboxes on their Instagram accounts, asking followers to send questions or comments about them anonymously.

The app, which touts itself as “a fresh take on anonymity,” has language filters intended to prevent harassment. But news found that some phrases still made it through.

When the news tested the app, slurs and terms like “KYS,” which stands for “kill yourself,” were filtered out. But the language filters allowed messages with more routine bullying terms slip through, including the phrases “You’re fat,” “Everyone hates you,” “You’re a loser” and “You’re ugly.” Users whose messages were flagged for using inappropriate language weren’t barred from sending additional messages immediately after having sent messages with slurs.

 News has reached out to NGL for comment on its screening filters.

“We believe anonymity should be a fun yet safe place to express your feelings and opinions without shame,” the NGL website says. “Young people don’t have a space to share their feelings without judgement from friends or societal pressures. NGL provides this safe space for teens.”

App store descriptions offer similar language about safety.

“We utilize deep learning and rule-based character pattern matching algorithms to filter out harmful language and bullying,” the description reads. “Ultimately we believe that anonymity only works when it’s safe!”

The app works by linking to a person’s Instagram handle. Once it is linked to an Instagram account, a user can use the NGL feature to ask followers to “send me anonymous messages,” as the initial prompt reads.

The prompt can be edited to ask anything the user wants to know.

NGL was launched in November, according to its website, and it launched on iOS in December, according to Apptopia, a platform that tracks app store data. In May, the app launched on Google Play.

Apptopia estimates that the app has had 7.3 million global downloads but that 7.27 million of its lifetime downloads happened this month. The biggest jump happened from June 13 to June 16, Apptopia found, which took NGL to the top of the U.S. App Store downloads. During that period, it jumped from 355th place to first.

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