A few months ago, a UNC Charlotte student, Big (his real name he asked be kept anonymous) opened, what most would consider, an unusual Snapchat. Within the ten seconds allotted for a video on the app, Big watched as a young man chugged a beer and jumped into a lake, off the side of a boat, driving full speed.
For a moment, Big was impressed by the stunt. Then, he resumed his day as normal.
Within the next two hours, Big received another video, showing the beer-drinking daredevil had landed himself in the emergency room. Even more impressed, Big decided to send back a message.
“Anytime you wanna hang out, let me know,” he typed.
In most situations, this would be an abnormal interaction for the everyday social media user. But for Big, these are the types of videos he receives 24/7.
Big saves these multimedia messages to his phone and re-uploads them to the story of one of his nine accounts. They’re all based on college campuses, including UNC Wilmington, Appalachian State University and UNC Chapel Hill. Most of them range from 1,000 to 2,500 followers.
The account Only Wolfpack at NC State is his second most followed Snapchat, but the one account Big cares for most is Only 49ers.
Students who have gotten word of the account send in pictures and videos, in hopes that Big will re-post them on the Only 49ers story.
The content ranges from alerting other students of fire alarms on campus to helping students find their lost items to providing addresses of parties, and images of brief nudity and marijuana.
Big runs the accounts with two of his friends, another UNC Charlotte student who is taking the semester off and an NC State student. They receive about 100 submissions a day and upload about half. The “snaps” that are the funniest or most entertaining to the group make the cut.
The Snapchat app has stories for specific locations such as UNC Charlotte and University City, but the material is heavily censored. Unlike Only 49ers, where photos of lit blunts, dorm room fridges filled with alcohol and “post-smash” photos of female students are the main content.
There has yet to be a successful app for uncensored, college community sharing.
Yik Yak, an app that let users post on college-specific forums anonymously, was shut down in April after it failed to prevent cyber bullying.
In 2015, apps such as YETI – Campus Stories and Fleek attempted to become the uncensored version of Snapchat on college campuses. Both used location identification as a way to create a feed of submitted pictures and videos that would disappear after 24 hours of being posted.
YETI – Campus Stories faced controversy after a possible sexual assault was posted on Florida A&M University’s feed. The video showed a man facing away from the camera as he penetrated either an unconscious or unresponsive female.
Neither of the apps can be found on the app store today.
In 2015, East Carolina University administrators got word of a Snapchat account titled ECU Nation that revealed the extent of their student’s partying, threatening the school’s reputation.
Arizona State University, University of California – Los Angeles and Iowa State University have all been in the public eye for accounts as well.
The idea for Only 49ers was based off a previous account, Naughty Norms, that was shut down due to inappropriate and illegal content.
“We were like ‘well, the school needs another one. Why not us,’” Big said.
In order to avoid termination, Big had to set some ground rules. He will post photos of drugs, but will not assist in the finding or selling. Occasionally, students will try to advertise themselves as dealers on the account, but he refuses to post those submissions.
“It’s just dumb. We’re at school to get an education,” he said.
While partial nudity has appeared on the account in the past, Big said he will not post full nude photos.
“People send in some videos and I’m like ‘guys, this is not Pornhub… your peers are gonna see that. You really don’t want them to see that,'” Big said. “Most of the time, I’ll text someone that. If it’s just too wildin’, I’ll be like ‘check yourself.'”
With the fall semester just started, the account is growing at a rapid pace, Big said.
It has grown so much that Big and his partners have the potential to profit from advertisements, but he says that’s not the purpose. They mostly run the accounts as a way to meet people and have fun.
“[Snapchat] is the way to communicate nowadays,” Big said. “When you first meet [someone], you’re like ‘hey add my snap.’”
Big’s goal is to have over 1,000 followers on 100 different school accounts.