For Unseen, social media should promote freedom of expression

Michael Schramm

Here in the Unseen office, we were recently made aware of some UT student criticism of our anonymous photo-sharing app when photos of fliers started appearing in our moderation feed. A group of conservative students had plastered the campus with the words, “Respect your body. Stop posting boobs on Unseen.” Especially as a company that cherishes freedom of expression, we would never dream of denouncing the students behind these fliers. In fact, we’re all about creating an open forum for communication, so it’s great to know we’re getting people talking and generating discussion. In the spirit of open discussion, I do want to take a moment to address those statements and let students know about the kind of social environment we are trying to create in the Unseen app.

The only issue that we as a company have with the fliers is the judgment passed on women who post nude photos and the attempt to silence those who comment on their photos. Unseen users have every right to think for and express themselves (and let’s be real, it’s not only women posting topless pics, but men too). No one should be ashamed of their body, regardless of body type, color or size. Rather, the ability to show it freely without any social repercussions should really be something to celebrate. Nor is it disrespectful — it’s a personal choice made by an individual. Through Unseen we want to create a safe environment for these kinds of choices. Whether someone is posting a nude picture or asking for advice about a personal issue, we want to make it possible for that person to get the attention, information and validation they need while revealing only as much about themselves as they choose.

What a user sees and experiences on Unseen is raw. It’s real and open and certainly not the kind of thing you find on a Facebook profile or an Instagram feed. In providing a place where students can say what they want and be who they want, we fully expect criticism. But ultimately we place a higher value on freedom of expression for everyone than on the opinion of those who believe in aggressive censorship.

We strive to be completely transparent in our active moderation of posts, and every comment or piece of content that we remove from the feed is taken incredibly seriously. While we’re dedicated to protecting users from malicious activity, we are not in the business of creating an artificial, super glossy view of the world in the way that other social media platforms do. For young adults these days there is a huge amount of pressure to live up to the overcomposed personas that have grown out of public profiles. We still have a way to go, but we’re pioneers in a new age of honest social media, building an environment free of this burden. We want to unshackle this generation from the expectations — and social repercussions — of an online identity.

Schramm is the CEO and co-founder of Unseen.