As an online commerce platform, especially the one that facilitate transactions between anonymous parties, Zaarly could potentially have a dark side.
As Craigslist has learned, this kind of transactions may bring all sorts of legal questions for the startup. After all, goods and services without an “official” market are likely to include sex and drugs. To combat any potentially illegal use or otherwise fake ads, co-founder Bo Fishback says that Zaarly has a team working 24/7 to scrutinize each offer that’s posted and will furthermore develop a keyword blocking system with heavy filtering. That way, the person who wants a massage at their office can get the service of someone who really is there to provide a massage rather than “a massage”. On top of that, the anonymous nature of the service keeps things in check, because asking for a massage from a tall, blonde female will trigger alerts that the Zaarly staff will be able to filter.
Fishback also reveals that the company has an eventual plan to add track records and trust mechanisms to the site. “Trust isn’t associated with a name and face, it’s associated with actions,” he says.
The anonymity is designed to keep a buyer’s willingness to pay $100 for a $10-worth service a secret (unless he or she opts to post the request on Twitter and/or Facebook). So basically it’s good idea, though not entirely sustainable due to its high potential for illegitimate use.
Fishback admits that this system might freak some people out at first glance, and that there’s a level of trust involved. “Most people on the platform end up introducing themselves,” he says.