By Marne Burghoffer | firstname.lastname@example.org
When the majority of students at a particular college download a new app within a couple of months, it is bound to spark interest with campus leaders. A new app called FADE has done this at Flagler College in St. Augustine, Fla. by tapping into young people’s desire to be able to post something online temporarily and later have it disappear forever.
FADE’s tagline, “Nothing lasts forever”, is enticing, however many people are confused as to what it is. The app is only for colleges and is unlocked once more than 500 people on campus have downloaded the app. Users can post unlimited photos, along with one anonymous post per day. The app claims to be self-governed. Users click an upwards facing arrow to like a post and make it visible longer, and a downward facing arrow to dislike it and make it disappear.
FADE was developed during the spring of 2014 by Socialstudio Inc., a company made up of veterans from the technology industry. The app was piloted at two college campuses in California and Arizona to test technical capacities, then took off over the summer.
“We never expected it to expand at this pace,” said Mayka Mei, director of marketing at FADE.
After just a few months, the app has become available at more than 140 campuses around the United States. A new campus is added almost every day as the word of mouth spreads.
“With an app like FADE, especially at a college like Flagler where it’s small enough that it’s a small campus but large enough that it’s impossible to know every other student in that amount of people, everyone can be in one place,” Mei said. “FADE becomes a natural place to promote school sessions and school spirit.”
The large number of downloads is evidence of the students at Flagler’s approval of the app, however, some faculty members aren’t so quick to join in the excitement.
“I don’t think self-governing sites and apps like this work,” said William M. Jackson Jr., director of network and desktop support services. “You get the people that like inappropriate things voting to keep that kind of stuff up and that’s when the people that want to use it for what it’s meant for get discouraged.”
As former director of technology services, Jackson has seen many phases of social media trends. He compares FADE to the app Foursquare, which is another geo-social app that had a brief phase of popularity at Flagler College.
“People get tired of those that abuse it and stop using it, that’s just how it goes,” Jackson said. The large presence of Flagler College students using the app makes it difficult to see an end to its popularity, especially to current users.
“I love FADE. I was one of the people telling everyone, ‘hey, you have to check this out,’” said Donn Garby, student ambassador at Flagler College, and one of the first 100 students to download the app. “I think it could be beneficial for the school, too, for example they can promote events to people that are literally right on campus using FADE and can walk right over.”
Many students say FADE is a mixture between Snapchat and YikYak, two other popular apps targeted at young-adults. FADE, like YikYak, is categorized as a geosocial app, meaning it is only usable when at a certain location, near where others use it. Students like Garby feel that the app is a way to connect with other people on campus at Flagler.
“It really promotes a camaraderie between students,” Garby said. “We all know about things happening in real-time, and can relate to each other really easily this way.”
Flagler College social media and web content coordinator Jared Mauldin is skeptical that the FADE app will be beneficial to Flagler.
“We want to reach students so that they have experiences and memories, that’s our goal with the social media that Flagler produces,” Mauldin said. “We don’t want to make students uncomfortable and where Facebook and Twitter are platforms that most students use and can be generally addressed, this seems like the college would be getting too personal, maybe even crossing the line as intrusive.”
Mauldin also states that although the promise that FADE brings of, “Nothing lasts forever”, sounds great, the likelihood that what is posted to the app is actually gone from the internet completely is unlikely. The rapid surge in the amount of students downloading the app surprised Mauldin and others involved in Flagler College’s social media efforts.
“I think it can be both positive and negative. It could, for example, create a sense of community among students, and posts that are building those relationships between students would be positive,” Flagler College advancement writer and marketing specialist Kelly Vavra said. “However, there are several downsides to an app like FADE. Since your username and information isn’t as straightforward as on other social media sites, users gain a sense of freedom in expressing [themselves] through posts and comments that may not be constructively building positive content.”
Mei said that FADE is different than other apps that may face these problems because it is not completely anonymous. She also said that the company believes this will discourage spam and people that frequently post to start arguments among users, otherwise known as trolls.
“I think that apps like FADE can be a double-edged sword to students,” Mauldin said. “As with all social media, I just want students to be safe and smart about what they post, and it’s no different with FADE.”
According to Mei, FADE has new features coming out soon. Although she declined to describe them, she said they are very exciting and that fans of the app at Flagler College should be on the lookout.