“What’s Fizzing?” The Latest College-Based Social Media App to Reach UMassD

(Image created by Graphic Design Manager Anamika Menon)

Arts & Entertainment Editor: Kamryn Kobel

Email: kkobel@umassd.edu

You may have heard people around campus talking about Fizz, a new social media app. But what is Fizz? And should you get it? 

Fizz is a combination of the popular social media apps Twitter (X) and YikYak. Most Fizz posts are anonymous and can be upvoted, downvoted, shared, and “re-fizzed” (similar to quote tweeted). In addition to text posts, users can share polls, images, and gifs on the timeline. 

Most Fizz posts are anonymous, but users can create a public handle and profile picture that they can use to post their Fizzes.

What’s unique about Fizz is that it is college-community-specific. In order to log in, you must put in your school-affiliated email address and verify through Microsoft (and, you guessed it, Duo Push). Doing so will enter you into the UMass Dartmouth server. 

Most users in the UMassD community are freshmen, according to this poll. 

(Screenshot via the Fizz app)

Another unique feature of Fizz that sets it apart from YikYak is that some accounts are not anonymous. Student organizations can register and post from their organization’s account. 

The UMass Dartmouth server features posts from CyberSecure Computing Club (CSCC), UMassD’s Theater Company (TCo), the National Society of Black Engineers (UMassD NSBE), and various fraternities and sororities. 

Organizations can post fliers and promote their events on Fizz’s Explore page. 

(Screenshot via the Fizz app)

Fizz also includes a tagging system that helps with organizing and finding posts. Tags include clubs and events, like the ones previously mentioned, but also include tags such as “DM Me,” “PSA,” “Question,” “Crush,” “Confession,” “Lost & Found,” and “For Sale.” 

Some posts are tagged appropriately, but some are not – for example, these two posts have been tagged as “Lost & Found.” 

(Screenshots via the Fizz app)

While one user properly uses the tag to post about earbuds that they found and wish to return to their owner, the other posts about another account (CommuterHater) and a picture of the South Park iteration of Saddam Hussein.

One Fizz user who opted to post using a handle and profile picture chose to go by “Saddam Hussein,” a handle that is not only inappropriate for a social media site that is connected to users’ school emails, but would be problematic on any social media site. 

This brings up a larger issue with Fizz that has not gone unnoticed by users nationwide. 

According to an interview with Seattle University student Andrew Fletcher, Fizz is being used to harass and bully members of his campus community. 

“Dining hall workers, student-athletes and people struggling with homelessness and addiction near campus can be counted among those who have become targets of cruel humor on Fizz.”

An Amherst Student article states, “Moderators were recruited via LinkedIn, and attended training sessions to prepare them for their roles, including as facilitators and content creators… As moderators, they respond to reported posts and take down posts themselves if they violate guidelines. Violations include personally identifiable negative information, personally-targeted posts with substantial downvotes, and any ‘prejudice based on race, class, age, ethnicity, body type, gender, or sexual orientation,’ according to the app.” 

However, Amherst College student, Ona Ortiz-Gudeman says that “because the moderators are other students, there’s definitely a bias with regards to what gets deleted and what is allowed to stay up.” 

Many offensive and harmful posts on major social media sites such as Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, which employ automated moderation of posts that violate their community guidelines, are quickly deleted, and users who repeatedly violate these terms are banned. 

Alternatively, Fizz moderators are all students

Fizz’s website explains, “We crowdsource a large team of students at each school to moderate individual Fizz communities. Moderators review all reports, and no single mod can remove a post without approval from other mods (works like a democratic system),” and the students are “randomly selected.” 

This method, as opposed to computer-automated moderation, is time-consuming and completely subjective. As Ortiz-Gudeman pointed out, this method has a lot of potential for bias. 

Hate speech and harassment aren’t the only worries when it comes to Fizz – an investigation conducted by Stanford students with expertise in cyber security revealed that “phone numbers and/or email addresses for all users were fully accessible, and that posts and upvotes were directly linkable to this identifiable information. It was possible to identify the author of any post on the platform.”

The students notified Fizz of these issues, and the problem was allegedly solved – but the students “received a legal threat from Fizz’s lawyers.” 

The letter from Fizz’s lawyers claims that the Stanford students had “unauthorized access to [Fizz’s] systems and databases,” and “demand[s] that each Group member confirm their agreement to maintain confidentiality of this matter and all information regarding the security vulnerability.” 

So, what does this mean for UMass Dartmouth Fizz users? 

Students should be wary when signing up for the app, as the app has a not-so-great history of cyber security failures and the overwhelming potential for hate speech, bullying, and harassment.


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