Editor’s Observe: The Fizz customers interviewed on this article requested anonymity for concern of retribution given the delicate nature of their nameless posts on the social media platform. They’re referred to by their Fizz leaderboard names.
A nervous first-year sits on the coffee-stained desk exterior CoHo, fidgeting together with his small vanilla latte and nudging his glasses up even after they aren’t slipping off his face. Throngs of individuals mill in and round, ready within the perennially lengthy line on the Tresidder Bundle Heart or strolling out of the espresso store, arms full with lattes. However not one of the scores of Stanford college students pay the person on the desk a second look.
It’s uncommon. He’s, in any case, a campus celeb.
The frosh on the desk is among the most up-voted customers of Stanford’s department of the favored nameless social media platform “Fizz.” The app permits college students to put up utilizing pseudonyms or with the placeholder title, “Nameless.” Posts then lie on the mercy of different customers, who can upvote or downvote the content material on their feeds. An in-app leaderboard lastly ranks the hundreds of Stanford Fizz customers by how a lot “karma,” or internet quantity of votes, they obtain on their posts. The main customers — fizzfluencers — can declare unique pseudonyms and take their positions on the prime of the leaderboard.
“It’s not ‘influencer,’ however extra like ‘affect,’” stated Sunny Liu, affiliate director of the Stanford Social Media Lab, relating to the impact that fizzfluencers have on the platform. “The impacts are nonetheless the identical, however the connection, the id, and the self-presentation features are much less apparent on Fizz.”
Due to the customers’ anonymity, college students say not many Fizz customers take into consideration the Fizz-famous celebrities hiding of their midst.
“I don’t actually care about fizzfluencers,” stated Colin McKhann ’26. “It’s all simply type of a content material machine, and I suppose I don’t actually care who the content material is coming from.”
Utilizing the Breaking Dangerous-inspired pseudonym “Heisenberg,” the first-year with the vanilla latte holds the third spot on the general Stanford Fizz leaderboard with over 250,000 karma. Because of privateness issues over extra intimate posts coping with private conflicts, Heisenberg declined to share his actual title for the article.
Fizz, an iOS-exclusive app, burst onto Stanford’s social media scene in August 2021. After the app shortly gained traction amongst Stanford college students, founders Ashton Cofer ’24 and Teddy Solomon ’24 left Stanford to pursue the enterprise full-time. As of November 2022, roughly 95% of Stanford iPhone customers had downloaded the app, the founders of Fizz claimed to TechCrunch.
“Fizz is the one social media group that represents Stanford as an entire, as a result of it’s completely Stanford folks on there,” stated Heisenberg. Customers should authenticate their Stanford e-mail handle to entry Stanford’s department of Fizz.
Heisenberg stated that he downloaded the app simply previous to arriving on campus within the fall. By the tip of Thanksgiving break, he was prime ten on the leaderboard. As of March 5, Heisenberg had posted 1,868 instances.
“Typically I attempt to put up a humorous put up or an excellent relatable put up, however most of my posts are simply random ideas,” Heisenberg stated. His posts embrace musings over a reasonably sky, vents about roommate troubles and questions relating to the correct approach for a razor.
Now, months after coming into the leaderboard, Heisenberg stated that he doesn’t actually take into consideration his fizzfluencer fame.
“I’m not going to sit down on my mattress smiling on the ceiling like, ‘rattling, I’m on the leaderboard,’” Heisenberg stated. It’s nameless, in any case, and he stated it was by no means a dream of his.
In accordance with Heisenberg, the anonymity of Fizz lends him safety, the freedom to share his private ideas and freedom from judgment. Although he not often makes use of his leaderboard-specific username, Heisenberg holds no intentions of giving up that, or his fizzfluencer standing. “Despite the fact that it’s nameless, seeing your karma depend go up, it’s some stage of validation,” Heisenberg stated.
The sixth-ranked person, a sophomore psychology main who goes by “dr. lesbian,” stated that she doesn’t maintain the identical ambitions of accelerating her karma. Nevertheless, like Heisenberg, dr. lesbian spoke solely beneath the situation of anonymity, citing issues about outing her sexual orientation to others on campus.
“I didn’t intend to change into a fizzfluencer,” dr. lesbian stated. “It simply type of occurred. I don’t put up for karma, that’s not my objective. I identical to sharing my ideas.”
dr. lesbian presently sits at simply over 195,000 karma. She posts, on common, twice a day about campus happenings, puns or any fascinating pictures she’s taken that day. Her most upvoted put up is an image of Lake Lagunita.
“I simply wish to make folks snicker,” dr. lesbian stated. “I would like folks to see my posts and be like, ‘I like that.’ As a result of college is difficult. Life is difficult.”
dr. lesbian stated that she understands the enchantment of an nameless social media web site for Stanford college students.
“So many individuals listed here are self-conscious and afraid of judgment,” dr. lesbian stated. “We’re at a giant college with quite a lot of college students who’re tremendous influential and have achieved so many nice issues, so there’s type of a concern once you come right here that you just received’t match as much as expectations.”
In accordance with Liu of the Stanford Social Media Lab, Fizz can present reduction from this strain.
“We name this a web based disinhibition impact,” stated Liu. “After we are nameless, folks really feel safer and extra free to specific what they wish to share and speak about.”
Some college students stated that this impact makes Fizz a extra relatable and fascinating platform.
“Individuals put up that they didn’t get nice grades that quarter or are actually struggling or they really feel imposter syndrome or they’re confused about one thing that everyone appears to get,” Kate Esbenshade ’25 stated. “I feel there might be lots of people within the feedback or up voting who can resonate with that.”
With this inventive freedom, some Fizz customers have change into fairly prolific. The No. 1 person on Fizz, “The FBI,” has accrued over 500,000 karma, nearly double the karma of the fizzfluencer in second place.
“I don’t suppose that’s attainable,” Heisenberg stated of the No. 1 spot on the leaderboard. “Since you type of have to surrender having a life to get to that time.”
The FBI — mimicking the secrecy of their real-life counterpart — declined an interview. They did, nonetheless, critique the time period “fizzfluencer,” providing replacements like “fizzician,” “fizzicist” and “fizzical coach” by personal messages on Fizz.
Some college students stated that they consider The FBI must be extra forthcoming about their success.
“When you’re primary, personal it,” stated Kaitlyn Leitherer ’26. “Put that in your resume.”
Nevertheless, not one of the fizzfluencers — even those who agreed to be interviewed — have been keen to personal their identities.
In accordance with the Fizz influencers interviewed, the selection to stay nameless is just not with out purpose. As a cautionary story for entering into the solar, Heisenberg provided a narrative from final yr.
In October, Heisenberg stated that he responded to a different person’s put up on Fizz by direct messages, placing a dialog between the 2 that lasted for weeks.
The pair spoke regularly on Fizz about their every day lives, hopes and fears, and TV present suggestions (she advisable he watch Breaking Dangerous). 4 weeks later, as Heisenberg scrolled by Instagram, he acknowledged one thing: a subject they’d talked about earlier appeared in an Instagram story on his feed. He stated that he knew he had discovered her, however he requested her anyway to verify.
She ghosted him. It was the final time Heisenberg cried, he stated.
Heisenberg texted her for the final time in January after he binge-watched Breaking Dangerous. He stated he needed her to know he preferred the present. As a closing homage, he modified his nom de Fizz to “Heisenberg.”
Regardless of his disappointment, Heisenberg — an influencer who stated he thrives on anonymity — stated he understands why she didn’t reply.
“I most likely ought to have revered the truth that they needed to remain nameless,” Heisenberg stated.