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Vermont high school students gossiped about sex lives of peers, faculty



A social media app that targets Gen Z students has come under fire after students at a Vermont high school used it to anonymously mock disabled classmates and speculate about the sexual orientation of others, according to a report

Fizz Social, a private messaging board founded by two Stanford University students who billed it as “an uplifting digital space for Gen Z,” has been blamed for wreaking havoc at Champlain Valley Union High School in Hinesburg, around 15 miles south of Burlington.

The 1,300 students enrolled at the school were encouraged through an advertisement on Instagram to sign up for Fizz Social to share “anonymous CVU confessions and crushes,” according to The Wall Street Journal.

A social media app that allows youngsters to post anonymously has reportedly wreaked havoc at a Vermont high school. The image above is a stock photo of teenagers using smartphones. Drazen – stock.adobe.com

When the students started posting in early May, the comments were largely innocuous. But some of the commenters then began speculating about the sexual orientation of classmates, according to the Journal.

Others uploaded photos of students who were mocked for their looks and disabilities, the Journal reported.

The gossip soon got even worse.

Students who were spotted at parties had their photos uploaded to the messaging board, where commenters insinuated that they were using drugs or were inebriated.

The app was also used to spread rumors about alleged romantic dalliances between teachers and other staffers and faculty members. Some reportedly speculated that teachers were involved with students.

The posts on the app often went viral as students had the option of “upvoting” messages — thus pushing them higher on the app’s feed, the Journal reported.

Fizz dominated the discourse in the school hallways and cafeterias — so much so that students were checking on the app constantly to see if their names were mentioned, according to the Journal.

“I was shocked and dismayed by how quickly the app created harm,” Adam Bunting, the principal of the Vermont school, told the Journal.

Fizz Social is a private messaging board that allows college and high school students to post anonymously. Fizz Social/Website

The Fizz Social app drew comparisons to Yik Yak, the social media app that was banned by several schools after it was used by college students to anonymously bully and harass others. Some schools had to evacuate due to bomb threats and threats of gun violence that were made through the app.

Bunting told the Journal that students tearfully complained to guidance counselors.

One senior had to be persuaded to finish out the year and graduate after contemplating leaving the school altogether, according to Bunting.

The principal told parents to contact the app’s makers to have the school removed from the app. On May 7, Fizz agreed to temporarily remove CVU.

“Our student community spoke up after anonymous memes and posts on Fizz turned cruel,” Bunting told The Post:

“Fizz describes Vermont and our school as an outlier, and I agree with that sentiment — our kids have little tolerance for apps that seemingly encourage gossip,” the principal added.

Ashton Cofer, who founded the app in 2020 alongside then-fellow Stanford undergraduate Teddy Solomon, told the Journal that Fizz is used by students at more than 240 colleges.

The app was introduced to high schools in April. As of Monday, 60 high schools were signed up to the app.

Marketing data cited by the Journal found that Fizz has 113,000 monthly active users — more than double compared to a year ago.

Since its inception, it has been downloaded 600,000 times.

Students at Champlain Valley Union High School in Hinesburg, Vt. were left in tears as a result of gossip that was posted on Fizz Social. Xavier Lorenzo – stock.adobe.com

Solomon told the Journal that what took place at CVU was “an outlier” and that the typical user experience at other schools was positive.

He said that 90% of high school and college users of the app reported feeling more included and connected thanks to the app.

“I view it as a learning opportunity,” Solomon said of what took place at CVU.

CVU is the latest school that has asked to be removed from the app. Parents at a San Francisco-based Catholic prep school were outraged earlier this year when a student authored a “racially derogatory social media post” through Fizz, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Some colleges in Florida and North Carolina have barred their students from downloading the app.

“From day one, our goal with Fizz has been to increase inclusivity and bring people together in an authentic way,” the company said in a statement earlier this year to the Chronicle when asked about incidents at colleges and high schools.

“Gen-Z is the loneliest generation, and other social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok have only made the loneliness epidemic worse by serving as a highlight reel that further divides students.”

The Post has sought comment from Cofer and Solomon.



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