If you’re an Instagram user, you may have noticed that people ask you to respond to questions in their stories, which they say are anonymous. But everyone knows that Instagram users can see who is viewing their Stories and that your username is associated with any answers you give to official Instagram polls or Q&A boxes. So, what gives?
Meet NGL(Opens in a new window), an app that allows you to generate URLs that can be used to request anonymous feedback from followers on social media. Short for “don’t lie”, NGL allows your followers to answer or ask questions without revealing their identities, although NGL does give the questioner “hints” about your identity when they pay, so proceed with caution.
If that sounds like a recipe for cyberbullying (think Ask.fm, Secret, and YikYak?), NGL claims its “world-class AI content moderation” will filter out “harmful language and bullying.”
“Our algorithm can also detect the semantic meaning of emojis, and our web scraper retrieves specific examples of contextual emoji usage,” says NGL. “This means we stay on trend, we understand jargon and we know how to filter out the bad stuff.”
Internet users obviously excel at “the bad stuff”, but you can judge how well NGL handles toxicity (I can send myself a “you suck” message). Here’s how to get started sharing and asking for secrets on Instagram.
Download the app
NGL is not an official Instagram feature; you need to download the NGL: Anonymous Q&A(Opens in a new window) app from the App Store(Opens in a new window) or Google Play(Opens in a new window)† After downloading, the app will ask for your Instagram username. You do not need to provide your password; in fact, you can use any Instagram handle. I typed in my personal username as well as PCMag’s and NGL allowed it.
NGL did not respond to requests for comment about how its app works, but it appears to function as a URL generator. You largely type an Instagram handle so that NGL can scrape the profile picture and name that appear when you paste the URL into your stories.
And while the NGL app is designed with Instagram in mind, the link can be posted on any social media page or shared privately. (Snapchat is hard at work finding anonymous apps, though.) On a computer, the link opens in a browser, where people can type replies that are sent to your NGL inbox.
How to generate an NGL link?
To ask questions, you need to generate a link. Open the NGL app and tap Get questions!and then search for your Instagram username. Once found, tap the Copy link knob. Open the Instagram app, tap the smiley icon, select the Link sticker and post your URL.
Those viewing your stories will see the NGL link like any other link that invades you. If they click and send you a question or respond to a question you’ve asked, their messages will be sent to your NGL inbox.
You can also tap the Part! button in the NGL app to automatically generate a template that you can share to your Instagram story in the same way, which is useful if you’re not sure what to post.
Check NGL Answers
NGL will notify you when someone sends a question or answer through the link. Check your messages in the NGL app by tapping the Inbox tab at the top of the screen. In your inbox, messages are in the form of unmarked letters. When you open a letter, you’ll get responses from people who clicked on your link. Replying to the message takes you to Instagram where you can post your response as a story or as a private message if you think you know who sent it.
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Is NGL really anonymous?
Want to know who sent an anonymous message? Open a message in the NGL app and tap Who sent this? > Unlock to make an in-app purchase for “hints” from NGL about who sent the message. On the iPhone, it was ready to charge us $9.99 per week for NGL Pro; NGL says it offers a “lower” pricing option, which appears to be $1.99 or $6.99 according to the App Store description.
We didn’t upgrade to see what kind of hints the app gave. The app’s FAQ states that “in the coming weeks, we’ll be introducing more specific hints that will make it easier to find out who sent the message.” So keep that in mind as you pour your heart out on NGL.
How To Uninstall NGL App
To delete an app’s history, you usually need to delete the account you created and then delete the app from your phone. But unless you upgrade to the Pro version of NGL, you won’t For real create an account in the app. But you should probably log out. NGL says that if you log out, “your messages will be deleted forever”.
To remove NGL or generate a link with a different Instagram handle, tap the Settings icon in the top right corner and select Delete account > Yes, delete account† NGL will take you back to the welcome screen, where you can log in with a different account. Or close and delete the app.
If you sign up for NGL Pro through Apple, here’s how to unsubscribe.
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