The social media app “Yik Yak” is back and supposedly better than ever. “Yik Yak” describes itself as “…a radically private network connecting you with the people around you. No strings (or labels) attached.”What they mean is that “Yik Yak” allows users to post to a board for anyone within a five mile radius to see and upvote or downvote- under complete anonymity.
Users hold the ability to post whatever they want but according to “Yik Yak,” “If someone bullies another person, uses hate speech, makes a threat, or in any way seriously violates the Community Guardrails or Terms of Service, they can be immediately banned from “Yik Yak.” This all seems great in theory. People can say things they’re too shy to say attached to their name or face and it’s all regulated by guidelines and terms of service. But is that true regulation?
Back in the 2010’s, “Yik Yak” was incredibly popular- it’s target audience being college campuses. “Yik Yak” is perfect for campuses because it encapsulates users into a little five mile radius bubble, so students are generally only interacting with fellow students. This can allow students to converse about campus topics anonymously, but it can also allow for students to talk about other students anonymously. This was “Yik Yak’s” big issue and what ultimately led to its original demise in 2017. Eventually “Yik Yak” had been banned from Middle and High Schools in attempts to mitigate damage done to minors on the app. “Yik Yak” had garnered the attention of mainstream media outlets who often were in support of Colleges and Universities banning the app because of its ability to be a host to so many hateful and all around harmful conversations. The bullying, hate speech, racism, and overall negativity pervaded almost every campus “Yik Yak” community, which led to a decline in usership.
So, why would creators bring back “Yik Yak” four years after it was erased from all app stores across the world? Most likely the answer is the monetary aspect, having been at one time valued at upwards of $350 million. Despite this, is it a good place to go for college students, and more importantly in our case, Wheaton students? Let’s take a dive into the cesspool that is “Yik Yak.”
I had heard that “Yik Yak” was back my first week back on campus and I immediately downloaded because the last time “Yik Yak” was downloadable I was in highschool where nobody was allowed to use it. I watched as the Yaks slowly trickled in. There were maybe one or two Yaks posted in this area a day, four on a good day.
The Yaks near campus can easily be separated into four groups, those talking about having had the original version of “Yik Yak,” those wondering why “Yik Yak” here is so dead, those trying to get a laugh or an upvote rather and miscellaneous. An example from an OG ‘Yik Yak-ker’ posted 5 weeks ago said, “Who else had the OG ‘Yik Yak?’” 12 upvotes, no comments. An example of the second group was posted 4 weeks ago reading, “Where tf is everyone? START YAKIN,” 11 upvotes, one comment reading, “I’m in da house.” An example of the third group looking for upvotes and laughs was posted two weeks ago reading, “Chase gives me the poopies,” nine upvotes, one comment reading: “True.” The miscellaneous Yaks are more difficult to point out and even more difficult to attempt to put in print. Overall, there is not much bullying or hate speech so far on “Yik Yak,” but that could just be from the lack of users at the moment and it seems that everyday less and less people are using the app around here.
The important question I am posing here is: should Wheaton students download “Yik Yak?” After very little deliberation and contemplation my final answer is no. In fact I plan on deleting the app from my phone after I finish writing this, that’s how boring and unnecessary it is. At this point it’s just taking up space on my phone for absolutely no reason. Seeing what happened on “Yik Yak” in the past there was no need to really bring it back in the first place, it seems to be a breeding ground for hate and bullying and we don’t really need anymore of that in this world. The whole anonymity aspect of it is so appealing to many people, but then again how difficult is it to be anonymous on Instagram or Twitter? Not at all, so really the whole purpose of “Yik Yak” is not even that original of an idea. I truly believe that campuses and people overall would be better off without “Yik Yak” and that it should be left behind in 2017 where it belongs.