New app “Fizz” launches on campus

The anonymous app has sparked curiosity and concern among student users


The app’s founders paid campus fraternity members to advertise its launch. Students also serve as content moderators for the app. Photo by Catherine McKean ’24

Catherine McKean, Arts & Life Editor

As students navigated the first day of classes on Jan. 9, ambassadors for “Fizz” arrived on campus to spread the word about the launch of a version of the app specifically catered to Washington and Lee.
Fizz is advertised in a TechCrunch article as a “less heinous version” of YikYak by its co-founders, Teddy Solomon and Ashton Cofer. Students make anonymous posts that community members can like (or “FizzUp”) and comment on. But the app has a few key features that distinguish it from YikYak.
To access the app, users need to provide and verify a valid student email address. A team of student moderators regulates content on the app, instead of a standard artificial intelligence review system.
“Fizz is, above all, an app made by students, for students,” said Solomon in an interview with the Ring-tum Phi. He explained that this method of verification ensures the safety of students and enhances their experience.
Having students serve as peer moderators is also important, Solomon said, because “only students familiar with campus culture” can accurately understand posts referring to campus-specific ideas.

“For the most part, anything goes.”

Moderators were scouted for on LinkedIn a month before the Fizz app launched on campus, one student moderator said. Each moderator will be paid $500 a month.
The student wished to remain anonymous because his contract prevents him from disclosing how much he is paid, he said. But the moderator role is “easy enough,” he said, and the Washington and Lee community isn’t nearly “as toxic as I expected.”
“For the most part, anything goes. A lot of the ‘bullying’ is really just [ego] contests,” he said. “Like you get frat guys making fun of the other frats or srat girls calling each other ugly, which isn’t new.”
The moderator said the only time he removes content is when it calls a student on campus out directly by name, “or if there’s something that’s just not true or something could get someone in trouble,” he said.
The moderator said that he has a lot of friends who frequently post on Fizz, and they like it “a lot more” than YikYak for all of its extra features, like the ability to include pictures and memes, post real names without immediate removal, and start polls.
He said that the only thing that he and his friends miss about YikYak, which groups users based on location, was the ability to communicate with students at Virginia Military Institute and other Lexington residents.

What’s Fizz doing at W&L?

Solomon and Cofer, former Stanford students, founded the app to combat the “loneliness and isolation” they felt as first year students in the fall of 2020. The app first launched at Stanford in 2021, where 95% of the Stanford student body downloaded the app, Solomon and Cofer said in the TechCrunch piece.
The two founders then started presenting their creation to investors and launching versions of the app at other colleges, including Yale, Rice and Dartmouth.
“When I said we were bringing Fizz to W&L, my team looked at me like I was crazy,” Solomon said. “I think W&L is very similar to Dartmouth and we had a lot of success there, so I’m hoping we’ll see the same here.”
Fizz has not released any data specific to Washington and Lee. But the Fizz post with the most interactions as of Jan. 20 was a poll with 1,147 responses. The top post of each day, as displayed on the @fizzwashlee Instagram page, often reaches over 400 likes.
In an attempt to gauge Fizz use on campus, I posted a series of five polls and tracked responses. Here’s what I found:

  • Within the first hour of the polls being up, each had amassed over 200 responses
  • 47% of respondents identified as upperclassmen and 53% identified as underclassmen
  • 45% of respondents said that they hadn’t made any posts, 33% had made between one and five posts, 16% had made between six and ten posts and 6% had made 11 or more
  • When asked what Fizz users’ favorite app feature was, a majority preferred the app’s pictures and memes as well as poll creation
  • Adding on to the above question, 16% liked the decreased moderation that allows them to post real names and not have posts removed when downvoted, and 7% liked the awards and leaderboard feature that give users badges when they make certain types of posts and get a certain amount of Karma, or likes (a new feature installed by the Fizz Team)
  • A majority of respondents (59%) were men affiliated with fraternities, with women affiliated with sororities trailing behind at 21%. Independent men and women made up 17% of respondents.
  • About half of the respondents heard about Fizz through word of mouth, 26% through the flyers distributed across campus, 17% through Instagram stories and 5% through links sent in group chats

Solomon specifically recruited fraternity members to spread the word about Fizz, he said. Students were paid $15 to post about the app to their Instagram stories or spread flyers in residential areas.

Students share their doubts

One independent student who wished to remain anonymous stated that the advertisements “seemed like a very fratty operation, one that [they] were not the intended target of” and that they had not downloaded Fizz because they “wouldn’t be surprised if the app was overwhelmingly Greek, too.”
Other students decided not to download Fizz because they already have YikYak, or they are worried about the app’s privacy.
According to a November 2022 article in The Stanford Daily, three Stanford students were able to hack into Fizz’s database and expose private information about its users. This discovery was met with legal action by Fizz’s team, but it is unclear if Fizz took further action to protect data.
Students also worry that Fizz will just be another forum for harassment.
“It might come in a sleeker, more advanced package, but its implicit core purpose of serving as a forum for anonymous harassment remains perfectly intact,” said Chas Chappell, ’25.
Many posts on Fizz center around fraternity competition and drinking. But there are also posts about homework complaints, campus meals and animal sightings.
Adam Chin, ’24, describes the app as “bringing the best and worst of the campus community together.”