By Amethyst Martinez
The marketing campaign run by the newly introduced “Fizz” app has been everywhere on campus: through flyers slid under dorm doors, on the social media of Rider students, in LinkedIn direct messages and more.
The new social media app, where students can discuss university-related topics anonymously, premiered on Rider’s campus over a week ago, and has since taken on a life of its own.
Fizz states it has no connection to the universities they’re servicing, meaning that schools have no access to the content or data from the application: essentially, it’s a Wild West of anonymous posting where Rider officials have no say.
The free app, which has no advertisements, states on its website that it does not generate revenue and operations are currently reliant upon a team of investors.
Multiple Rider students were contacted on LinkedIn for the job opportunity of becoming a moderator on the app, with the responsibility of sifting through dangerous and negative content, while also creating posts.
Cecilia Simon, a junior political science major, was contacted for the job on LinkedIn, but ultimately was “ghosted” by the employer.
What was expected of her? For about $500 a month, Simon was asked to perform moderator duties such as erasing posts that didn’t follow community guidelines, but to also make at least 30 posts a day.
Simon said that representatives who reached out were looking to hire students who knew the culture and community at the university.
Included in the contracts for employees are non-disclosure agreements, meaning moderators were unable to speak with The Rider News unless they were granted full anonymity.
One paid moderator for the app estimated that there were around 10 students currently mediating the site, including themselves.
The moderator was also contacted through LinkedIn for the job opportunity, where employers are able to look at educational background and where they went to school.
“We have to post … all the time, every day,” said the moderator. “We’re just on the app all day.”
The hiring process involved a training session for the moderator duties, outlining what kind of content was not allowed: bullying and personal information, hate speech, misinformation, obscene content, spam and illegal content.
According to the Fizz website, moderators can see any other posts other users see, but have the ability to take down posts that don’t follow the guidelines.
“All moderators are trained to be objective, and since Fizz moderation works like a democratic voting system, no single moderator has the power to remove any post,” read the website.
The app, which is currently outwardly expanding to other schools across the United States, was started at Stanford University by two college students who, according to their website, noticed a lack of connection amongst the community due to campus restrictions caused by the pandemic.
Fizz launched at Rider just over a week ago and the anonymous moderator estimated around 1000 students from the university were using the app.
“It’s grown a lot throughout the week, so more and more people keep getting the app,” they said. “I think there’s going to be a lot by the end of the month.”
When asked if there has been bullying or hate speech that they’ve seen on the app, the moderator said it was very miniscule in comparison to the amount of posting daily by students.
Fizz also features a leadership board on the app of the top users for posting, highest like ratios and more.
The Rider News spoke to the student who sits at first place on the Fizz Karma Leaderboard, who wished to remain anonymous due to the app’s incognito way of posting.
Currently, they sit at almost 16,000 points on the leaderboard, almost 10,000 higher than the second-place holder.
The student said that Fizz also reached out to them on LinkedIn around a year ago, but they are now not working for the company. After seeing the flyers around campus this semester, they decided to give the app a shot.
“I feel like the app is going to fade a little bit unless they bring more ways to be different, if that makes sense,” said the student. “It was a new app for Rider, so I was like, you know what, I gotta get on this and make sure people know that y’all need to step it up.”
Due to the student’s top score, he is also a moderator of posts that are reported, but is unpaid by the company.
“It’s basically a council of moderators that make sure that all the content is regulated, but it doesn’t take away your free speech,” said the student.
The posts on the app vary: oversharing bad habits, roommate complaints, difficulties of the daily grind of college student life and gripes and grievances with the university.
“Starving to death on campus [because] they decided to close all the dining options,” wrote one anonymous poster with 112 upvotes.
“Fizz up if you think we should get rid of [W]endy’s and replace it with something better,” said another, with 814 upvotes on the post.
Overall, the social media app, which has expanded to other universities across the country and has gained popularity amongst students, has to now prove its longevity, where other anonymous posting apps such as YikYak, which was founded in 2013, have faltered.