From Where We Are

New anonymous social media platform takes USC by storm

Sidechat is topping the charts on the app store as students share their nameless opinions

A new social media platform has granted USC students an anonymous voice. Here’s Anthony Slade with the scoop.

”I get 20 new mental illnesses if I scroll on this app for longer than five minutes.” That’s one post on the most recent anonymous messaging platform, Sidechat. The trendy new app allows college students to sign in using their university email to weigh in on campus gossip, poke fun at University scandals, and crack a joke without the pressure of a username.

Ethan Ford, a junior majoring in real estate development, caught wind of the app this semester.

ETHAN FORD: I don’t really do social media, but it looks like Twitter, so … it’s probably interesting for those people who want to keep secrets and be sneaky and stuff.

Sidechat began taking college campuses by storm across the East Coast in Spring of 2022. According to the New York Times, it became a cornerstone of the social landscape of Harvard and Cornell. USC junior real estate development major Talia Elbaz has tinkered with the app, but that’s about it.

TALIA ELBAZ: I think I’ve made like two posts on there, and that’s pretty much it … it’s just for shits and giggles.

YikYak was a similar anonymous messaging platform. The app swept high school and college campuses across the nation in 2013, where it soared to the top of the app charts. Valued at over $400 million at its height, YikYak was later sold in 2017 for around $3 million. Over time, users logged off and schools began banning the app.

Natalie Maciel, a sophomore majoring in mechanical engineering, has remained critical of anonymous messaging platforms.

NATALIE MACIEL: I think if you have something to say, you should give credit where credit’s due and write your name underneath your post.

Sidechat boasts a laundry list of community guidelines which aim to avoid the fate of other anonymous apps. According to their website, Sidechat has banned any posts which include personal information, bigotry, requests for drugs and alcohol, trolling, misinformation and much, much more. Hannah Woodworth, a junior majoring in journalism, seems to think these restrictions are working.

HANNAH WOODWORTH: I think it’s the first app, like social media app, I’ve seen really tailored toward current campus culture in a way that’s comical and also the content that I’ve seen isn’t that derogatory, which I think is generally positive.

As of right now, the app boasts hundreds of anonymous USC users -- all it takes to sign up is a phone number, an email, and some thick skin.

For Annenberg Media, I’m Anthony Slade.