Yik Yak: Lots to Discuss about Anonymous Messaging App
Yik Yak is all talk. Which is exactly why the social media app is the topic of discussion. Plenty of college students–and a devoted group of high schoolers, use the geographically based app to share conversations–anonymously. That’s right. Everything they talk about is on deep background–all on the downlow. Which is why critics fear that in addition to being used for innocent social media messaging, Yik Yak is being abused for cyber bullying, threats, and worse. Think of it as more Yik than Yak.
While it’s hard to keep up with all the ways students have to keep their parents off their social media trails, Yik Yak is prime on students’ radar. The app has been downloaded more than a quarter million times in a year. It’s geographically based, allowing those within a ten-mile radius to join the conversation(s). That’s great when there’s a lot to cheer about over the big homecoming game, but not-so-much when it’s a pile-on about the student who couldn’t get a date. There’s no such thing as an innocent post when you’re the target–and the bullies are unnamed. In addition to posting comments, users also get to vote up or down on other’s posts, similar to when you “Like” something on Facebook, or “Favorite” on Twitter.
What could possibly go wrong with all that? The Des Moines Register reports schools in Chicago, New Mexico and Vermont have banned Yik Yak–mostly as a method to stop cyberbullying and prevent the anonymous comments from getting out of hand. The same with the geo-fencing around high schools, that’s supposed to keep younger students from using Yik Yak. Then there’s the app’s own Rules and Info tab, which clearly states “You do not bully or specifically target other yakkers.” News flash: it’s not working, probably nothing works better than telling a teenager not to do something, right?
Check out the conversation near you and you may find innocent talk from people looking to meet others. Unfortunately, the topic is just as likely to concern more graphic interactions. You don’t even have to download the app to see what people are saying about it. Just hashtag #YikYak on Twitter and you get a good sense of the topics and tone. This blog put together a list of some of the more PG-13 type discussions, but there’s plenty of R rated and worse.
If you think any of the concerns is deterring others from entering the crowded social media app field, just check out Adweek. It reports the biggest kid on the block, Facebook, is looking into creating its own anonymous app, soon-ish. Both online and in the name, you can definitely count on it being Face-less.
Certainly, Yik Yak and apps alike weren’t created with negative intentions–but innocent comments on someone else’s shoes wasn’t exactly the main idea either. It’s simple–people talk, and Yik Yak gives them a different way to do it. It’s exciting, tempting and menacing all at the same time. It’s not gossip–it’s Yik Yak.