Israel is the place where new apps enter the world, but is it also where protests stop bad apps before they hatch? A Facebook protest has been brewing since Monday, against a new app that is currently prominently advertised above Tel Aviv's busy Ayalon Highway.
The app is called Blindspot, and it enables installers it to send anonymous text messages to their contacts, without any possibility that the messages will be traced back to their sender. Message recipients can block other users and can ask senders to reveal their identity. Any user who is blocked by three people is removed from the app.
Since its release earlier this month, it has been one of the world's most downloaded apps.
The app's developer is Dor Rafaeli, brother of the world famous model Bar Rafaeli, and it is backed by the Shelanoo Group, a fast-growth Israeli technology company specializing in interactive mobile applications which is owned by entrepreneur Oded Kobo, son of businessman Bebo Kobo. In March, Shellanoo Group closed a $35 million round of funding led by multi-billionaire Roman Abramovich, quadrupling the share value of the company in less than 10 months.
However, while the application is gaining steam in Israel's app stores, so is the protest against it. "See the friendly smiley in the picture? Someone had enough money to advertise this new application called Blindspot, that makes it possible to send short anonymous messages, above the Ayalon Highway," wrote screenplay writer Eli Weissbart on Facebook.
"What is it good for? Mainly to annoy, insult, threaten or embarrass, without taking responsibility. After all, we have no problem sending positive messages in our full names. So why should your child install it? Because everyone has it, and his friends are cool, and why are you making a big deal about an app?!"
"Go ahead and make a big deal," he urged. "That cute smiley is an open channel for humiliations. An open door for evil. It really doesn't matter if your child is on the side that does the abusing, or gets abused. Both possibilities are equally bad."
The post received over 6,000 "likes" and 4,000 "shares" since being posted Monday. However, some commenters chided Weissbart for unintentionally giving the app free advertising, noting the adage that all publicity is good publicity.