Down, Formerly Bang With Friends, Returns Anonymity to Your Crushing

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Photo: Geber86/Getty Images

Down, formerly known as Bang With Friends, is planning to introduce anonymous texting as a new feature of its hookup-centric dating app. From their given pool of prospective dates (Facebook friends who also have downloaded Down), users can send an anonymous text message to the crush of their choosing. Down only reveals the user's identity if a crush likes them back, and though the app formerly known as Bang With Friends was notorious for its explicitly lustful approach to online dating, it seems to be reviving a surprisingly chaste anachronism: the secret admirer's note. Is any romantic gesture less likely to actually get someone laid, at least in the short-term?

A representative for the former Bang With Friends, Matt Slusarenko, said that Down will publicly announce the feature next week. He said that the dating app tested out anonymous texting on Sunday, with one percent of its total users. On average, the users sent six messages, with gay male users sending the most on average (nine). Down also noted that straight females were slightly more likely to send messages compared to straight men. To rein in the potential for anonymous harassment, Slusarenko says that Down will permit each user to message a given number only once.

In the year since Bang With Friends launched, dating apps that exercise simplicity and foreground immediate action have overshadowed the more complicated, profile-centric dating sites like OkCupid or Match.com — Tinder in particular won fans with its effortless setup and low-commitment objective. Though Down also trades in simplicity, speedy outcomes, and the promise of mutual interest (banging), Tinder opened up the pool to people other than Facebook friends and employed a subtler approach to its users' aims: no sex act in the name, no doggy-style logo. And lately, Hinge has become something of a dating-app darling, applying the simplicity of Tinder, the algorithms of OkCupid, and the social-circle appeal of Down: It connects you with friends of Facebook friends, matches your interests based on your Facebook profiles, and only tells the two participants if they both heart each other's faces.

Is it possible that the exhilarating appeal of anonymous messaging could give Down a new edge? While this new feature trades in the fast-and-easy side of crushing (all ee!!, no gutsy follow-through or careful courting), it also appeals to a certain nostalgia. Sending an anonymous, flirtatious note to someone in your social group could be the equivalent of leaving an unsigned note in a locker or calling a crush's house pre-caller ID and hanging up the phone quickly. Whether its users employ romantic tactics or explicit pictograms is still unknown, but Slusarenko noted with an "ugh" that the app was processing approximately four dick pics an hour, "all day and all night," since it began its trial on Sunday.