A new social media app for high schoolers has dethroned TikTok and BeReal in the App Store rankings — and is surprisingly not toxic
- A new app for high schoolers is ranked #1 in the app store right now, beating out BeReal and TikTok.
- The app "Gas" lets users send anonymous compliments to their friends and classmates through polls.
An anonymous app for high schoolers is currently ranked #1 in the App Store — and it's surprisingly not toxic.
The social network exploding in popularity among teens is named "Gas," after the Gen Z lingo for "gassing someone up." For the older readers out there, that means giving someone a compliment.
Here's how it works: after you sync up your location and contacts to the app, users anonymously vote for their friends in a round of polls that refresh every hour. The prompts range from friendly superlatives to flirtatious confessions. If you win a poll, a "flame" gets sent to your inbox.
The app was created by Nikita Bier (the founder of a nearly identical app "tbh" that Facebook acquired in 2017 only to shut down months later), Isaiah Turner, and former Facebook engineer Dave Schatz. Right now, it's only available in 12 states but is scheduled to go nationwide soon, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Anonymous social media apps for teenagers have a history of burning up in flames. Yik Yak, a similarly anonymous, location-based app shut down in 2017 following a series of cyberbullying controversies. Then there's Ask.fm, an anonymous question-and-answer app, that was linked to several teenage suicides.
But unlike Yik Yak or Ask.fm, Gas users can only vote on pre-written compliments, and there's no direct messaging.
The company says the app is intentionally designed this way in order to "create a place that makes us feel better about ourselves" and show users that "there are people who love and admire you."
Currently, the app is fighting a different kind of controversy: a rumor spreading across TikTok and Snapchat that it's involved in human trafficking. The hoax caused 3% of users to delete their accounts in one day, according to Bier. Right now, "is gas a sex trafficking app" is a top Google Search query related to the app.
"This human trafficking hoax about the Gas app has taken on a life of its own," the app's co-founder tweeted last week. "Just got a message from a user asking why a van showed up outside of their house after installing."
—ashton kutcher (@aplusk) October 20, 2022
According to Bier, Gas has 1 million daily active users and is acquiring 30,000 users per hour. After a Twitter user asked the co-founder how he knows Gas won't be a one-hit wonder like tbh, Bier responded: "To be honest, I don't really care," adding that the "best part" is receiving messages from teens who say the app has helped their mental health and self-esteem.
Are you an active user on the Gas app and want to share your experience? Email digital culture reporter Mara Leighton at email@example.com
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