This week, over 1,000 Boston College students received automated emails and text messages inviting them to join “Friendsy,” a social networking app that allows college students to connect with people on their campuses. Nearly 1,000 BC students have joined the app in the last few days according to Vaidhy Murti, Friendsy’s CEO.
Murti created the app when he was a sophomore at Princeton University, where he felt that it was difficult to branch outside of his friend group and wanted to form relationships in a manner that was fast and easy.
“The idea behind Friendsy was to build a better way to help college students meet other people,” he said.
Only students with “.edu” emails can sign up for the app, which ensures every profile is verified. The app allows students to swipe through profiles and request to be friends, “hook up,” or go on a date. If the other person requests the same action back, the two people match and can chat. The default setting of the app allows students to only see users who attend the same university, but this setting can be changed so students can match with members from other universities.
Friendsy is driven by network effects—the more people use it, the more valuable it becomes. When a new user signs up, they must create a profile. They cannot access the app itself until a certain number of students from the university have created profiles. At BC, the minimum threshold required was 500 users before the app was activated.
The first students to use Friendsy were therefore encouraged to invite new users so they could unlock the app. The students allowed the app to access their contacts and invited as many friends as they wanted, thereby generating the hundreds of emails and text messages students were receiving asking them to join the app.
“This strategy is what creates the ‘Friendsy frenzy’ at a school,” Murti said.
The text message comes from a robo-number. The message that many students received was “A senior at BC thinks you’re cute & invited you to Friendsy to reveal their identity. INVITE EXPIRES AT MIDNIGHT!” with a link to the app after the message.
The person inviting the student was not necessarily a senior, however. Murti said that not all text messages use “senior”—some use “someone”—but the purpose of the ambiguous language is to protect the anonymity of its users that request their friends or crush to join the app.
The email invites are also customized to BC students. The email uses the BC Athletics logo, which Friendsy did not obtain permission to use.
Elizabeth Dority, director of technology and organizational effectiveness, became aware of the app’s email and text requests on Monday. She said that she will contact BC’s legal counsel about the use of the logo.
Over 50 percent of BC students on the app have made a match already, according to Murti. Half of the matches have been as friends and the other half have been as dates or hook-ups. Some students have opened the app hundreds of times each day, and one has opened it over a thousand times one day, Murti said.
Many students who have received the email have been skeptical about the email being spam. Others were also surprised to receive text messages from the company without knowing who invited them to the app.
“[Friendsy] is only useful if there are enough people on it,” Murti said.
Photo courtesy of Friendsy