Fizz, a new anonymous social media app that has found its way onto Elon’s campus, was coined the “anti YikYak,” by its co-founder Teddy Solomon. The app, which launched on Aug. 23 for Elon students, allows users to post text, photos, gifs, memes, and polls, as well as message other users anonymously.
“The premise of the platform is hyper-local news and hyper-local content,” Solomon said. “It's one that was essentially built to be private, engaging and safe.”
The app was created in 2020 by Teddy Solomon and Ashton Cofer. The two were incoming freshmen at Stanford University but due to COVID were not allowed to come on campus and felt disconnected from the university’s community. Their solution to this disconnect was to create a centralized platform for other students to connect with each other. Fizz currently has branches at 13 other universities.
“You can express yourself on Fizz into a community where you know who's in the community,” Solomon said. “You just don't know who's who in the community.”
The app follows a similar format to YikYak but utilizes paid student moderators to track and take down content that goes against the app’s community guidelines. Funding for the app comes from venture capitalists and angel investors which pays for campus moderators and ambassadors. All users are required to sign up using their university email addresses, but the app is not directly affiliated with Elon. The moderators, who are also anonymous, are trained on objectivity and learn what is deemed bullying, doxing, hate speech, spam and illegal content.
Sophie Cline, head of community management at Fizz, helped create the community guidelines for the app and trained the moderators for Elon’s campus. Campus moderators were found through LinkedIn, where Fizz executive staff reached out to students.
“We want to ensure that those communities are safe and don't become toxic,” Cline said. “It's best for us to be coming up with those guidelines because we know what to expect from these communities and from students coming onto the platform.”
Senior Rebecca Potters worked as a launch day ambassador for Fizz on the first day of classes, handing out donuts and hats to students who downloaded and shared the app. She said she wasn’t expecting to interact much with the app after the launch but now frequently visits the platform.
“I genuinely have been posting and looking at other people's posts, and I just had a post that had almost 500 upvotes,” Potters said. “I'm shocked at the amount of numbers that we're seeing.”
Potters said one of the positives of the app is that it is meant for only Elon students, so there are no outside individuals trying to incite drama toward students. Potters said that one of the negatives, however, is the app is primarily used for humor rather than community building.
“I hate to admit it, but apps like this solely exist because you go on and you expect funny content from people you can relate to,” Potters said. “The anonymity aspect of it allows people to say things they normally would be afraid to say.”
For junior Tim Houlahan, the humor strictly from the Elon community is what got him hooked on the platform. Houlahan found out about the app through his roommates when they came home wearing Fizz merch. He said he enjoys that there are only Elon students on the app.
“It feels like just an Elon thing,” Houlahan said. “If you want to know what’s happening on campus, you can actually find out because it’s all from students.”
Solomon first discovered Elon while he was in high school following college basketball of “mid-major teams.” He said that his decision to start a Fizz chapter at Elon came from his memories of the school’s strong sense of community but lack of action happening around campus and in the surrounding area. Solomon said he feels Elon University is an exciting place and has high hopes for Elon’s Fizz community.
“I know that Fizz very much does mold the social culture of the school,” Solomon said. “I'm really hoping and excited to see it be a really positive influence on the Elon community.”