Fizz: Coming to a Campus Near You

On the first day of winter term, on-campus students woke up to find small glossy flyers outside their doors, advertising an app called “Fizz”. Throughout the day, representatives gave out free donuts outside Hameetman to incentivize students to download the app. The invasion had begun.

Fizz is a social media platform designed specifically for college students: you need a university email to create an account, and you can only interact with your university’s feed. So, while Fizz has launched at many other schools, a Caltech user will not be able to interact with their content whatsoever. In principle, everything you see on Fizz was posted by a Caltech student, and only other Caltech students will see what you post.

Once on the app, users can create and consume posts, which contain things like images or short text, largely centering around Caltech. Other users can leave comments and award upvotes or downvotes to rate posts and comments. The app’s moderators are apparently Caltech students hired by Fizz, the stated intent being to have a more bespoke moderation system than relying on an auto-moderator or human employees unfamiliar with the university. It has been reported that moderators are also paid to regularly produce numerous posts of their own.

According to Fizz’s website, the app was founded by Stanford dropouts Teddy Solomon and Ashton Cofer. The two say they felt Stanford students struggled with “a lack of connection and authenticity”. They envisioned Fizz as a way to remedy this by being a “campus-specific platform that facilitates authentic conversations”, and launched it at Stanford in 2021. In the following months, they would procure millions in seed funding and expand to other campuses. It has supposedly been quite successful: the flyers claim that “95% of Stanford, Dartmouth, and Pepperdine students” use Fizz. I take this with a grain of salt considering Fizz is only available on iPhones and iPads.

The app’s website also states the following about the initial launch: “Fizz had completely changed the culture [at Stanford], creating a wholesome, intimate, and uplifting online space through proper community-based moderation.” While I am unable to access Stanford’s Fizz feed, the posts that have been posted to Caltech Fizz hardly seem to be the vanguard of positive cultural change. The vast majority are banal memes, posts dunking on members of certain houses, and a sprinkle of truly cursed content. I wouldn’t classify these posts as “wholesome”, “intimate”, or “uplifting”, and I doubt that many people are forming new “authentic” connections after seeing someone’s shitpost about Red Door pasta.

In short, it is essentially what one should expect from an anonymous Reddit-like platform: memes, shitposts, and some edgier material whose sincerity will probably never be known. We don’t even know how much of the app’s engagement is authentic, considering mods are required to make content. However, you should know what you’re getting into: Fizz is garbage. As a Caltech Confessions reader myself, I should stress that it is not wrong to enjoy garbage. Indeed, I personally enjoy seeing the disgusting things that my fellow Techers decide to inflict upon the rest of us. But you shouldn’t download Fizz thinking it’s revolutionary or positive.