There are a growing number of anonymous apps popping up in cyberspace, and middle and high school students are using some of them for cyberbullying or making threats, including Yik Yak, Whisper and Secret. Last week a new one launched called Fess, and it is built for and billed as being exclusively for high school students.
Here’s yet another way for students to cyberbully and harass each other.
Here’s how it works; after downloading the free app, users next need to be validated using their Facebook account. Fess scans a new user’s list of Facebook friends to evaluate whether he is actually a high school student, and then after approval the user will be put into his network, which is comprised exclusively of the students at his school who are also Fess users.
“Fess gives users the ability to flag content within the app. Therefore, if a post is particularly offensive or abusive, other users can flag it down and alert us to what’s been Fessed. Once flagged, this could potentially equal a ban for life to the poster from the app. This is made possible by Fess having user’s Facebook id.”
If recent history is any indication, particularly considering the problems with cyberbullying and school threats on Yik Yak, some students using Fess will be up to no good. Some administrators have gone so far as to have Yik Yak and other anonymous apps banned at their school. It will be interesting to see whether these and other schools will need to follow suit with Fess.
On an interesting side note, it is no secret that Facebook has been losing some of its luster with teens. If apps like Fess take off, it could give a boost to Facebook, since students need to have an account just to get into a new thing like Fess.
Unless Fess’s efforts moderating and policing cyberbullying are very effective, we’d caution parents to prevent teens from downloading and using it. It’s probably not worth the risk.
Parents can click here find help, and a link to Fess’s Community Standards and Terms of Service.
Contact ThirdParent any time for help and resources for monitoring child and teen internet activity.