How to text Ears anonymously

The thing about being a student-led, TCU-funded, anonymous organization is that we don’t have the most state-of-the-art technology. Our computer runs Windows Vista. Our phone is a landline. For crying out loud, we JUST stopped using AIM. 

Because of this, when we instituted our new texting service in the fall of 2017, we had to find a way to do it that was a) free, b) unlimited, c) anonymous d) available online and not only through a smartphone app, and e) able to allow any person with a texting-enabled phone to message us. Fulfilling all of those requirements proved to be INCREDIBLY difficult, and we had to compromise on some things to be able to use the texting service at all. Our compromise came in the form of Textfree*, a service through Pinger that does most of the things listed above. However, Textfree came with a catch: when you text Ears, we can see your phone number.

Now, don’t panic: we hate this too, and we realize that it kind of jeopardizes your confidentiality. So far, we’ve done everything we can to make sure that no texter is recognized: we delete all conversations as soon as they’re over, and Ears are not allowed to look up the phone numbers they see (and we don’t even have the equipment/software to do that). So far, no phone numbers have been recognized at all. 

Nevertheless, we 100% realize that the possibility of having your phone number recognized is a barrier to texting us. Because of this, I’m writing this article to tell you that THERE IS A WAY TO AVOID THIS! 

The same way that we created a “fake” phone number via Textfree, you can do this too! If you go to the textfree website or download the (free) Textfree app via the App Store or Google Play, you can create your OWN fake phone number + username that NO ONE ELSE WILL KNOW in less than 5 minutes. All it needs is a username, password, email, age, and gender (heads up, the gender option only includes male or female, we hate it). You then pick a fake number from a list they provide, verify your account via your own phone/Facebook/Google (this does not show up at all when you send texts), and you’re done! Your texts to us, sent via the mobile or web Textfree app, will show up as either your username or the fake phone number, neither of which can be traced back to you. 

We know this isn’t perfect, though, and trust us when we say we’re working on figuring out a more permanent/less annoying solution. Part of why we’re making this info public is to be more transparent with Tufts students about how the texting service works, because we realize we’ve been avoiding the topic a bit. If this creating a fake number thing creates a barrier to you texting us, let us know by filling out this form. Feel free to tell us any ideas you have regarding how we can make things better for you and for all the Tufts students who contact us. 

Thanks so much for reading, and don’t forget to KEEP ON TEXTING! 

*We are not sponsored or paid or anything by Textfree/Pinger, we just use their service.