July 16, 2018 Update: due to low usage, Facebook (who acquired TBH eight months ago), has decided to shudder this app. After an initial 5M downloads, the app’s usage tanked, maybe because being owned by Facebook made it uncool. You can read about two other apps being shutdown by Facebook here.
Description: TBH is turning anonymity positive. With over 1 million downloads according to its developers, the app has become a huge hit, rocketing to #1 in the app store. Taking individuals from your own contact list, TBH generates “positivity polls,” allowing users to compliment their friends/contacts via feel-good quizzes, like “Who’s the sunshine on my cloudy days?” Currently, it’s only available in 19 states, with more being added weekly (as of 10/2/17: Pennsylvania, Ohio, Oregon, New Jersey, New York, Florida, Washington, Texas, California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Georgia, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Delaware, North Carolina, and Nevada).
Amazingly, it is beating the likes of Facebook, Snapchat, YouTube, and Instagram, which is impressive, given its limited reach.
The app is taking anonymity and making it positive by eliminating free-text fields, and writing the questions for the users. In other words, TBH eliminates the ability for teens to say whatever they want. If I’m selected in a poll by someone as “the most fun at a school party,” the app sends me a note to let me know (but it doesn’t tell me who selected me – this is the positive anonymity). If a teen is selected in a positivity poll, they earn gems, which can be used to unlock additional features in the app. Teens earn blue gems if selected by a boy and pink gems if selected by a girl.
Polls are customizable (with limits). Although kids can create their own polls, they won’t go up immediately. Instead, the app actually approves each new poll before it’s published, in order to ensure that the quiz is uplifting/silly in nature and not mean spirited (impressive).
Privacy is a concern because it grabs the entire contact list from the device, worrying some parents. Additionally, TBH prompts kids to not just select their age and grade, it also asks them to select their actual school (this is why it’s limited to certain states, as the app continues to populate a complete, state-by-state school listing). The app wants to force kids to answer poll questions about fellow students, but that may be too invasive for some parents.
Worth and popularity comparisons are inevitable. Any polling app will encourage kids to compare themselves to others. “How many gems to do you have?” If your child uses the app, be sure to press into these unspoken questions with honest conversation about how the app makes them feel.
Is porn possible? If you drill down hard enough into the app’s Terms and Conditions? Yes. A hidden Google search is there. It’s not hard to find. Again, even if you have selected “limit adult content” in the iPhone’s Restrictions, these hidden Google searches within apps like TBH don’t obey these rules.
TBH Bottom Line:
In a world of anonymous negativity, this app is a breath of fresh air. Our usual stance is that anything anonymous isn’t meant for teens. TBH is challenging the status-quo with a bent on making feedback positive. So far, it’s features are doing a very good job, and we approve of its use for those who parents believe are old enough to handle the pressures of social media. Stay-turned – should the app ever allow direct messaging or free-form text, we will change our assessment.