Some students have become familiar with the app Yik Yak as a new form of social media. For students who are not familiar, it is similar to an anonymous Twitter, or as one yaker described it, “Yik Yak is the virtual version of bathroom graffiti.” Tyler Droll, the founder and CEO of Yik Yak describes the website as “a city’s central plaza or a campus bulletin board.”
Some have criticized the app, but I believe it’s an innovative form of social media for free thinking college students to post their thoughts, no matter how philosophically deep, or drunkenly vulgar.
The app does not have accounts, so no posts have usernames. The posts by others that are seen on the page are from within a 1.5 mile radius of other users. Users can up vote or down vote a yak. A post can be uploaded an unlimited amount of times, but if it is down voted five times it will be erased from the feed.
The app asks users to “Post your jokes, thoughts, observations, questions, etc.,” then lists a set of rules on its info page. Rule number one is “You do not bully or specifically target other yakkers,” and rule number two is “You DO NOT bully or specifically target other yakkers.”
However, some experts have said the app is actually a dangerous form of social media, with one psychiatrist, Dr. Keith Ablow, even calling Yik Yak the “most dangerous app I’ve ever seen.”
Ablow also said in an opinion piece for Fox News, “Anyone using Yik Yak can turn a school into a virtual chat room where everyone can post his or her comments, anonymously.” He goes on to cite how a Massachusetts school “experienced a 24-hour onslaught of ugly rumors and comments about students and administrators,” Ablow goes on to say, “The person or persons who were responsible for all the ‘yakking’ were never discovered. No one could be punished.” The doctor continues his clearly educated and scholarly article by saying, “The creators of Yik Yak decided to disseminate the technological equivalent of crack cocaine on America.” Doctor Ablow concludes his article with “I hope the app’s creators go bankrupt.”
Ablow does not seem to be a fan of the app. However, he understands very little about the app itself. Under the apps rules and info page it provides a quick metaphor to help users understand the rules of the app. The page says, “Herds of yaks are strongest when they work together and watch each other’s backs. Yaks should not join a herd until old enough, so no one under college age should be on Yik Yak.” Ablow failed to mention this when discussing the school in Massachusetts. The app is a forum for a community’s freethinkers to congregate anonymously, it is not the “technological equivalent of crack cocaine” as he makes it out to be.
In addition, he said administrators were not able to locate the bully in the Massachusetts school as if it were the fault of the app. Recently, a terror threat on the University of Georgia campus was made through the app. Ariel Omar Arias was arrested and charged on 19 Sept. with two felony counts of terroristic threats for threatening to blow up the Zell B. Miller Learning Center. This case proves the app has checks for those who decide to abuse it.
The app is a great system for students to share their thoughts and stories without fear of being cyber bullied in response. Responsible users ensure that the feed stays fresh with interesting yaks, rather than inappropriate lies. For these reasons I encourage students to “yak it up” as long as it is here. With people like Doctor Keith Ablow calling for class-action law suits against the creators, it is unclear how long we will be able to yak.
Do you “Yik-Yak”? How do you feel about the app’s popularity and what are some of the problems that can be raised by submitting posts randomly without any accountability? Tell us how you feel about it and please send all feedback to email@example.com.