What do you get when an anonymous version of Twitter comes out? About 100,000 users over the course of three months. That’s right, we’re talking about Yik Yak. The newest messaging phenomenon has taken over college campuses throughout the country. Yik Yak allows users to express themselves on social media, while keeping their individual identities completely hidden. The app was created by two Furman University students, Brooks Buffington and Tyler Droll, who made the app in hopes of connecting people anonymously in close locations. The app allows people to connect within a 5-mile radius, and is most popularly being used on college campuses. Yaks can be viewed only amongst people in the same location. Droll claims that “‘yaking’ is the welcoming, authentic and anonymous version of tweeting.” But while the app may have been originally created to chat, it has become a tool used to talk down on people, places and classes. Users also have the ability to choose their general location, and view yaks from anywhere the country.
Yik Yak can be quite entertaining at times because it explores scenarios that many may not be aware of. Yaks often offer information about parties occurring, uncomfortable situations, and other events, however strange or confusing. This social media uprise is due to the ability to hide one’s identity, while having no filter on posts published. An authority figure can be insulted on Yik Yak and the yak can only be seen by those in the surrounding area. The only way for a yak to disappear is for five users to down vote that post. This is known as “downing,” and is essentially a way of unliking a particular post. Popular yaks can get hundreds of votes, better known as “ups.”
It is no surprise that Yik Yak has become an ultimate source for bullies, for no consequences can be given due to the unique privacy the app maintains.
Although college communities are supposed to be mature, the app brings out severe immaturity in many senses. Yik Yak serves as a virtual chat room where false accusations can be viewed by the nearby geographic area.
Essentially Yik Yak was intended to be fun and comical, but it is considered by psychiatrist Dr. Keith Ablow to be “the most dangerous app” he has ever seen, for it holds the power to anonymously destroy an innocent individual’s reputation. Users can use the app to spread rumors and insult others. Bullying is already an epidemic and Yik Yak allows this phenomenon to occur on an anonymous level.
Overall, Yik Yak is negatively affecting college communities everywhere, and has made the anonymous expression of immaturity a widespread source of entertainment. Yik Yak may be the most popular new app for students to waste their day away, but if it is used in the wrong ways it can potentially be more trouble than it is worth. So be responsible and think before you post something on Yik Yak that may offend or upset someone else, regardless of the fact that said post is anonymous.
Freshman journalism major
Printed in the 11/05/14 issue.