Fizz is the social media app that has seemed to take over college campuses all across the United States, with Fairfield University being no exception as Fizz stormed into campus on Thursday, Feb. 2. The app prides itself on its anonymity, in which students can post about campus life: the athletics, social scene, academics and everything in between.
Fizz has its roots in Stanford University, as an article written in Aug. 2021 from The Stanford Daily details. The beginnings of Fizz stem from Ashton Cofer ’24 and Teddy Solomon ’24, both Stanford University students.
The article writes, “the app, which launched at Stanford on July 29,  has been embraced by both students living on campus and those away for the summer.” Launching under the name Buzz, the creators claimed that “[they were] hoping Buzz can be the glue that holds the student body together.”
In an article from The Rice Thresher at Rice University in Nov. 2022, author Bonnie Zhao quotes co-founder Teddy Solomon and his description of Fizz’s mission: “to provide people with a safer, more private and engaging space online.”
Fizz then joined Fairfield University in 2023 with this same goal in mind.
Fizz’s Instagram account, @fizzfairfield announced the arrival of Fizz through an Instagram post on Feb. 2, posting, “Fizz is live at Fairfield.” With another post which writes, “Day 1 at Fairfield.”
Fizz continued to promote their arrival to campus that Thursday, as a table was set up at the bottom of the Tully stairs and donuts were given out to students who downloaded the app. Additionally, students were promised $15 dollars if they posted Fizz on their Instagram story.
First-Year Fiona Kileen posted an Instagram story advertising Fizz and she shared that “I found them on GroupMe and they paid through Venmo the same day.”
Recently, @fairfieldbarstool, the Instagram account that claims they are the “Official @barstoolsports affiliate for Fairfield University,” posted Fizz on their Instagram in a paid promotion, in which they claim that “Fizz has completely taken over!” They urge users to “Download Fizz.”
However, Fizz is not a revolutionary idea, as social media app Yik-Yak, which was popular last year at the beginning of first semester, has the same principles as Fizz. Like Yik-Yak, Fizz is anonymous as user identities are not disclosed and cannot be viewed.
In her article, Zhoa writes that Solomon claims that anonymity is central to the app’s mission. But if the app requires your email, is Fizz truly anonymous?
Fizz’s Security Practices document states that, “We’ve ensured that at no point can Fizz users, moderators or our launch teams see another user’s Personal Identifiable Information (PII). PII on Fizz is stored in a separate secure database, which is only accessible by Fizz administrators.”
Although moderators, users and launch teams can never see anyone’s personal information, Fizz administrators are able to.
An article by TechCrunch written in Nov. 2022 describes a security breach at Fizz that led to users’ identities being revealed.
As reported by The Stanford Daily, Fizz’s platform was compromised in Nov. 2021, in which TechCrunch details that “Three Stanford students discovered that anyone could easily query the app’s Google Firestone-hosted database to identify the author of any post on the platform, where all posts are billed as anonymous. They also found users’ personal information like phone numbers and email addresses—plus, the database was editable, which made it possible to edit posts and give any user moderator status.”
It is unknown how many Fairfield students are on Fizz, as The Mirror reached out to Fizz for comment, but they did not respond in time for publication. However, according to a poll posted on Fizz by an anonymous user on Feb. 7, there are at least 2,446 users. The poll states, “Let’s see which [class] year uses this app the most, ” and garnered results that state that 1,401 are first-year students, 662 are sophomores, 243 are juniors and 140 are seniors.
With its exponential growth on Fairfield campus, concerns of cyberbullying, racist, homophobic, transphobic and other hateful content have arisen amongst students, as well as the administration.
First-year Emme Haddad states that “ [she] gets worried that it can get offensive towards people since it’s anonymous and people aren’t scared to say anything—even if it’s a hurtful or a straight up mean thing to say.”
On Wednesday, Feb. 8, Dean of Students, William Johnson, Ph.D. responded to Fizz’s introduction to campus and students’ concerns about Fizz. In an email, he addressed concerns regarding the platform. He stated that “a number of individuals have voiced concern to me regarding the use of the social media application.”
He describes Fizz and endorses its ideals: “For those unfamiliar with the application. which has drawn comparisons to Reddit. The application was designed as a way to promote community and aid students in making connections with each other on their campus—both ideas which we fully support here at Fairfield.”
The Dean of Students encourages students to use Fizz in accordance with the University’s values and expectations. He writes, “Please do not use Fizz to demean or disparage other individuals” and ends by urging students to “Please, be kind to each other.”
Fairfield students on Fizz have continued to note the tendency for users to post hateful content, one user posting: “why are some of you so mean.”
Reviews from the Apple App Store echo those same sentiments. A review posted on Sept. 29, 2022 describes Fizz as an “unmoderated mess [with] fake engagement.”
The review states that “Fizz is an unmoderated mess. In my school’s Fizz, I constantly see transphobic, homophobic and sexist content. I’ve also had a friend bullied multiple times on the app. Anonymity brings out the worst in everyone.”
Additionally, the review claims that Fizz “Also pay[s] their moderation team to make fake posts in the app, which seems like what they spend their time doing rather than actually moderating.” The review ends with, “[I] would not recommend bringing this app to your school, it’s bad for the culture.”
The Mirror has not independently verified the claim made by this user.
Sophomore Bianca Pineiro comments, “I think Fizz is cool until it’s taken to another level.”
She continues, “For example, when photographs are taken of people who are just trying to work and make a living at Fairfield, and then posted to Fizz without their knowledge, it’s been taken too far. Especially, when they’re not only posted but are also commented on.”
On Feb. 3, Fizz’s Instagram account posted a Fizz with an obscene comment under the picture of three Daniel and Grace Tully Dining Common employees.
Fizz assures users that the platform is safe, as they have moderators in place who flag hateful and harmful content.
In Zhao’s article, Solomon states that having moderators was Fizz’s top priority, and that Fizz’s staff “trained moderators to identify and delete bullying, doxxing, hate speech and other offensive content.”
Additionally, moderators on Fizz are university-specific and consist of students that attend that university, with a goal to ensure that Fizz is an uplifting, safe space.
The Mirror reached out to student moderators at Fairfield University for comment, but they were unable to comment due to the confidentiality section of their contracts and their need to maintain discretion about their work at Fizz.
A second review on the app store touches upon concerns of cyberbullying. On Mar. 7, 2022 a user wrote, “I’m new to this app but even just the first few posts on my feed verbally abused college students and made fun of kids, classes and professors.”
The review continues, “In light of rising mental health issues on my campus, apps with anonymous content and active bullying are dangerous. I don’t understand why the issue of bullying on this app isn’t taken more seriously—we need to do better to protect communities of college students.”
However, reviews are not only negative, as one review details the positives of the app’s anonymity: “This app has been transformative for my campus. [Our campus has] truly done a 360, as this app lets us spread our thoughts freely without fear of being targeted personally!”
Students at Fairfield share their feelings about Fizz, in which many students agree with the review above and see the benefits of the anonymous platform, while others point out its dangers.
Sophomore Erica Adams says, “I think that Fizz has allowed the Fairfield University students to find relatability with their peers within a small college campus.”
First-year Giovanni Darden is in agreement and thinks “that the app offers a great way for the community to express their feelings, interest and concerns openly.” He states, “Everyone can be heard and supported on Fizz.”
Sophomore Elliot Enriquez has mixed reviews. She first shares, “It’s my Bible, my morning newspaper.”
But she adds that “[Fizz is] funny, I just hope it doesn’t go too far—it’s only one step away from bullying.”
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