Gassed up

There’s a new app you need to know about to not feel so hopelessly out of touch next time you’re around teens: It’s called Gas, and it’s rocketing up the download charts, per The WSJ.

Why it’s happening: Despite only being available in a few US states right now, Gas has caught on by allowing users to send semi-anonymous compliments to others at their high school (like choosing someone as “the most beautiful person you have ever met”). 

  • Users get a stream of positive feedback through notifications (called “flames”) but have to pay if they want to see anything more than the age and gender of admirers.

  • It’s a verrry different energy than mainstream platforms that can be relentlessly negative and are filled with strangers (or, even worse, people you only sort of know).

Why it matters: The big tech players are doubling down on algorithm-heavy social apps like TikTok, Instagram Reels, and YouTube Shorts, but the success of Gas and BeReal shows there is a demand for social media that feels a bit more positive, authentic, and tight-knit.

Yes, but: The business model for apps like Gas and BeReal is far from proven: 

  • Ad-supported social media platforms turn a profit by keeping you scrolling for as long as possible by serving up a firehose of recommended content.

  • Gas and BeReal aren’t designed like that—the lack of a time-sucking content feed and interaction with a small circle of peers is part of their appeal.

Bottom line: Free social media apps that don’t shove ads in your face at every opportunity sound great, but the big test will be if they can maintain that appeal while turning a profit.