We’ve been here and done this before in terms of social media: a new, rapidly developing app enables online users to communicate motivation and support. At some point in the history of the majority of social media companies, stretching all the way back to Facebook’s participation in global “democratisation” during the Arab Spring, early social media success has centred on good outcomes.

Since the Arab Spring, there have been numerous assessments of the benefits and risks of social media, including the possible health and wellness effects on adolescents. Seattle Public Schools recently launched a lawsuit against TikTok, Meta, Snap, and others, arguing that social media is causing a juvenile mental health crisis.

The Supreme Court is prepared to review whether the Communications Decency Act’s Section 230 legislation should continue to offer these corporations with immunity from user content liability claims, as it has throughout their growth.

This week, social media startup Discord announced the acquisition of Gas, a rapidly expanding social media company that promotes positive affirmations.

“Gas is all about empowering one another with positive affirmations. Its enormous success demonstrates the possibility of building a lighthearted yet important space for young people, Discord wrote in a blog post on the partnership. The deal’s terms were not disclosed.

The app is created for anonymous compliments and positive affirmations, or, as youngsters say, “gassing your buddies up.”

Teenagers are increasingly using the application. In just two months since its inception in August, Gas has eclipsed TikTok and BeReal in the free app rankings on Apple’s App Store, achieving 1 million daily active users. According to The Wall Street Journal, it is currently “the hottest app.” In October, it boasted 30,000 new users every hour.

Three percent of users deleted their accounts after Gas was unfairly implicated in a sex trafficking hoax this fall, which prompted the company’s founder to reply.

But Gas has continued to expand as a social platform for adolescents, reaching 7.4 million instals.

Gas did not emerge from nowhere if you had never heard of it. Its founder Nikita Bier sold another poll-based service, tbh, to Facebook in 2017, however the app was shut down owing to low usage in less than a year. In spite of this, Discord stated in its blog post that “Gas’ creators have a demonstrated track record of developing innovative apps and experiences.”

Multiple anonymous polling apps, such as Yolo and LMK, exist on Snapchat’s platform, allowing users to pose questions to their friends, who may subsequently respond anonymously; however, these apps have shown to be very susceptible to misuse. In 2017, Snap prohibited anonymous chat apps.

While anonymous features can offer a special risk to user safety and encourage harassment, Gas asserts that it circumvents these difficulties with compliment-only surveys. These complement prompts prohibit users from running polls or sending direct messages containing potentially hazardous comments.

In the app’s description, Gas states, “Gas is where your friends tell you what they love about you. No, they will not harass you as other anonymous applications do. How it operates: 1) Enroll in school 2) Add friends 3) Answer polls 4) Be ignitable when picked.”

Discord’s success among a younger audience has resulted in a number of safety concerns, as harassment claims on the network have increased in recent years. The corporation has invested substantially to battle this issue, acquiring Sentropy, an artificial intelligence (AI) software company focused on combating online abuse and harassment. In its most recent transparency report, published in December 2022, the firm disclosed that it had disabled 42,458 accounts and removed 14,451 servers for child safety violations during the third quarter of 2022, a 92% decrease from the previous quarter.

Discord, which entered the social app landscape in 2015 as an alternative to Skype chats for gamers, has expanded beyond its origins as a platform for video game players to communicate. The two-time CNBC Disruptor 50 honoree has expanded beyond its mostly gaming-based applications with a broader voice chat platform, live broadcast capabilities, and the ability for users to monetize their servers.

Discord introduced Stage channels in 2021, providing users a new method to organise and host huge audio events as social audio grew in popularity. Threads was introduced in July as a method to branch a topic off of a channel’s main feed without eliminating it. Additionally, the firm offers premium membership capabilities, enabling creators and community owners to need a subscription to access all or portion of their server, tiered incentives, and member engagement metrics.

Microsoft reportedly made an offer for the company at one point, but no agreement was achieved.

Discord, unlike the social media titans of the first generation, does not generate revenue from adverts, giving it another similarity with Gas besides an emphasis on a younger demographic. Gas has amassed nearly $7 million in user spending through premium membership features such as “God Mode,” which provides users with cues about who complimented them.

Gas will work as a standalone app for the time being, but this does not rule out the possibility of polls being a new means of discussion on Discord.

In a blog post, Discord stated, “We are continually striving to build an inclusive society where no one feels like an outsider, and we are thrilled to welcome Gas to the Discord community as the next step in realising this vision.”

Keeping the story positive will be one of the most difficult problems for the companies, as it has been for many social media platforms before.

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