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Anonymous App Canary Is All About Inter-Office Gossip

Canary lets you chat anonymously with your coworkers while outsiders follow along.

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What’s really going on inside Apple? Or Google, or Facebook, or Tesla?

We may soon have the answer — or at least whatever gossip employees have to share. Canary, a new anonymous messaging app launched on Monday, enables users to chat in specific threads dedicated to their companies, Canary founder Geoff Pitfield told Re/code. Canary asks users to sign up with a valid employee email address — e.g. @recode.net or @facebook.com — which then allows them to converse and post alongside others using the same email domain.

Users are only allowed to contribute to their own company thread, but all posts are public, meaning you can sneak a peek at posts from employees at any company using the app.

And while there’s nothing to stop you from spilling the company beans on other anonymous apps like Whisper or Secret, there’s also no way for others to know if you’re a legitimate employee. So while you may not know if posts in the Google thread on Canary are accurate, you will at least know they were shared by legitimate Googlers.

“Some of the most interesting content [on similar apps], as rare as it is, is people talking about what’s going on at their business,” said Pitfield, who added that the idea came to him after “seeing this content on Secret and Whisper.”

Canary

Canary isn’t Pitfield’s first consumer product. He launched Scout Electromedia in the late ’90s, a tech startup that made handheld devices that offered suggestions for things like restaurants and local events. That company folded in 2000, and Pitfield, 42, spent four years as a consultant at McKinsey in the mid-2000s before jumping back into tech.

Of course, his new product may face some resistance as well. People may not be so keen to share company gripes for fear of reprisal, even if it’s supposed to be anonymous. Pitfield says he has some concerns that companies may try and block employees from using the service. Plus, he has taken less than $100,000 in seed funding, small potatoes compared to competitors like Secret and Whisper.

What happens if a company comes calling to demand which employee shared confidential information? Nothing, says Pitfield.

Users sign up for Canary using a secret token sent to their email inbox — which could be a deterrent for potential users, since the company in question could see that a person signed up for the service. Canary says it doesn’t save emails to its own servers, and Pitfield explains that while it knows which company each token belongs to, the tokens can’t be matched with specific users. Posts are stored on Canary’s servers, but they aren’t ever matched up with the user tokens, meaning it would be impossible to pinpoint which user shared which post, he added.

“Even if someone came to us and asked, ‘Who made this?’ or ‘Did the same person create this post and this post?’, we wouldn’t know,” he said.

Asking users to identify their employer before sharing secrets anonymously and publicly may make good fodder for journalists who are already using apps like Whisper and Secret for story tips. But Pitfield says he isn’t planning to establish any media partnerships like the kind that got Whisper into hot water last month. Pitfield also says he isn’t deterred by Dens, a similar product that Secret is testing and already operates within companies like Facebook.

The app is available Monday for iOS and will launch later this week on Android.

This article originally appeared on Recode.net.