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Anonymous email app launches with 'creepy' stunt

Farhad Manjoo, a tech writer for the New York Times, later tweeted,
Farhad Manjoo, a tech writer for the New York Times, later tweeted, "Leak, that was terrible and mean. I won't write about you."
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Anonymous email app criticized for "creepy" reporter messages
  • Leak lets users send email without using their own address
  • Company said stunt was meant to be funny but was "clumsy"

(CNN) -- The creators of an app that helps people send anonymous emails are coming under fire for a PR stunt that didn't quite go as planned.

Over the last couple days, Leak, a new service that allows people to send anonymous emails, sent a number of reporters questionable emails as part of a push to promote the app.

An email sent via Leak to a Mashable reporter: "Dear neighbors, would you mind stop (sic) walking naked at home? We can see you every morning when having breakfast. From someone, anonymously. Sent from Leak."

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Emails sent to Mashable, as well as reporters from other publications, ranged from nonsensical to more than a little creepy.

Leak cofounder Laurent Desserrey confirmed to Mashable the emails were sent to reporters as part of a PR push. "We decided to send them to some journalists we liked thinking that it was funnier to live the Leak experience than receiving a regular press release," Desserrey wrote in an email.

He did, however, acknowledge the company may have been a bit "clumsy" in its attempts.

The app launched last week. Desserrey, who is based in Paris, says it was created in a single weekend with the help of his friend and cofounder Sebastien Thiriet.

In a post on Medium Desserrey explains he was inspired by apps such as Secret which encourage anonymous sharing. "I heard about Secret and started to use it," he wrote. "I loved it and enjoyed the excitement of sharing for the first time my secret garden with everyone. But there is no Secret community in Paris yet, so the experience was a bit frustrating."

While some apps that encourage anonymous sharing have gotten flack for their potential to enable bullying and other negative interactions, Desserrey says he wants Leak to be used for good.

"We wanted Leak to be a really positive and exciting tool," he says. "It's sure that people can send negative leaks, but that is really not what the product is about. It's about saying the truth you're ashamed to say. And if it's getting negative you can block emails from Leak."

No word on how those anonymous emails to journalists fit into that scheme.

© 2013 MASHABLE.com. All rights reserved.

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