Tip Sheets

New app based on complimenting others could backfire for teens

Media Contact

Becka Bowyer

A new social media platform called Gas is gaining traction among teenagers and is one of the most popular free iPhone apps, despite being limited to a handful of states. Built around anonymous polling that is positive in nature, the app takes a new approach to social media engagement, but it may come with risks.

Natalie Bazarova

Associate Professor of Communication

Natalie Bazarova, professor of communication at Cornell and director of the Cornell Social Media Lab, studies the psychology of communicating on social platforms, as well as mental health and wellbeing online – with a particular focus on kids.

Bazarova says:

"In the world of social media, one of the main currencies in circulation is social validation and affirmation acquired through likes, upvotes, comments, and other signals of social attention. This accounts for the rising popularity of Gas, a new platform for exchanging compliments from anonymous users based on location features.

“It comes, however, with a twist of mystery because the identity of the complimenting party is not readily unveiled but can be earned by answering more polls or through paid upgrades. While spreading positivity by complimenting others is the main goal of the platform, it can also engender social comparisons and popularity contests for a micro-celebrity status.

“Another possible risk is reinforcing a ‘rich get richer’ dynamic through giving more attention and affirmation for kids who are already popular at school, while making others not mentioned in polls feel worse about themselves and lowering their self-esteem."

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