An app that allows anonymous exchanges is in the works by Facebook, the same company that has worked hard to facilitate an environment for sharing and recently triggered outrage when it required drag queens to use real names.

While Facebook has been known to capitalize on the success of apps popular with teens by developing rival software, Josh Miller, a product manager at Facebook, is attempting to make it clear that his company isn't cloning the likes of Whisper.

"I hope people know the @branch crew wouldn't build a clone of anything," says Miller. "Can't comment on rumors but can't wait to show you what we've built."

Whatever the app is, identity or anonymity isn't the primary objective, says Miller in a Twitter message that consumed four tweets. The app, as Miller describes it, seems as if it will serve as a place where alter egos can meet up to discuss things their much more coy doppelgangers would never talk about.

"Identity isn't a product goal," says Miller. "Focus should be on what human desire you want to enable, not anonymity as the focal point. Even then, it's very hard to build retentive communities without 'regulars.' You need some sort of recurring identity. Also, anonymous w friends + anonymous w schools breeds gossip. Can encourage positive use cases through product design. Finally, worth noting, the internet was the original pseudonym experiment. New apps are all ripoffs of IRC, forums, etc."

News of the in-development app comes after Facebook relaxed rules it had put in place, which required users to operate under their real names. The rules sparked outrage among LBGT communities, but Facebook has since apologized and allowed users to take on whatever name they use offline, which it refers to as their "authentic name."

Facebook VP Chris Cox apologized on behalf of his company for putting users through "hardships" with its naming policies, but he originally said the rules were in place to protect people from "real harm." The use of real names also helps Facebook stand out from other social sites, he argued.

"We believe this is the right policy for Facebook for two reasons," said Cox in an Oct. 1 Facebook post that explained the change. "First, it's part of what made Facebook special in the first place, by differentiating the service from the rest of the Internet where pseudonymity, anonymity, or often random names were the social norm. Second, it's the primary mechanism we have to protect millions of people every day, all around the world, from real harm."

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