Analysis: What is Sidechat?

Newly launched in Trinity this week, the anonymous social media platform has gained much attention abroad, primarily focusing on elite universities in the US and UK

Sidechat, a new social media app, officially launched its Trinity-focused branch on Monday. The student-centered social media platform allows users to “create memes, post jokes, share thoughts, [and] slide into DMs”. Developed by software company Flower Ave Inc, the app was first rolled out in a number of universities in the United States last year.

It differentiates itself from other social media apps, such as Twitter or Reddit, in that it guarantees users’ anonymity. This aims to allow students to be their “most authentic”, and that only students from the same university will be able to view or interact with posts.

The app is only available through the App Store making it exclusive to iOS devices

The launch took place yesterday morning, with a placard in front of the Berkeley Library entrance promoting the app. In traffic hotspots across campus, such as outside the Arts Block, representatives working on behalf of the company encouraged students to download the app and sign up, offering students a free donut for doing so.

This practice continued throughout the teaching day and well into the evening, with workers still handing out donuts to new sign-ups close to 6pm. They reported a discrepancy between the quantity of donuts given out and the number of downloads of the app.

Upon downloading the app, students were given the opportunity to earn a €10 reward by posting a link via their Instagram account and successfully inviting their followers to join the platform. This was on the condition that they had over 500 Instagram followers.

These advertising techniques were also used in other universities where Sidechat has chosen to operate, such as Harvard, Oxford, and Tufts. Reception to the platform on those campuses has been mixed, some labelling it “toxic” and elitist.

The app has already had some success, with it quickly reaching the top spot on the App Store’s Social Networking chart by the end of its launch day. No more than 12 hours earlier, it was 35th on the same chart.  The uptake is evident from the hundreds of “upvotes” given to some posts. One such post, promising to pop the infamous air bubble on the Ussher Library’s staircase if they receive 1,000 upvotes, has garnered over 2,500 upvotes.