I first found out about the app Yik Yak when I was in high school. It never stuck around and ended up just fading away.
I was surprised to see the app resurface this past fall and was shocked by some of the things written there.
For those who may not know or fully understand what Yik Yak is, it is a mobile app where you can post anonymously. Posts can only be seen within a 5-mile radius from the original post. After being posted, your “herd,” the viewers within that radius, can upvote or downvote and comment.
A typical day on Yik Yak usually consists of students asking what is being served in Huden, asking fellow students who live in the residence halls to be quiet, or when and where a party is being thrown.
Nothing out of the ordinary.
A couple of weeks ago, someone in the Castleton area posted on Yik Yak that Max the Cat was hit by a car – when he wasn’t.
This post caused panic on campus for students and especially for Max’s owner.
This behavior is disgusting, unnecessary and extremely harmful.
I know nobody would want to find out any news like that from an anonymous post on an app, so why post that?
Yik Yak does not do much about posts like these either.
According to their ‘community guardrails’, they write, “Yik Yak is where communities are free to be authentic, equal and empowered to connect with people nearby,” and continue to say that users are responsible for the consequences that their posts may cause.
Their ‘guardrails’ also say, “If you see a yak that doesn’t vibe with the Community Guardrails, please immediately downvote and report it. Yaks that reach -5 total vote points are removed from Yik Yak…Through the upvote/downvote system, we rely on our community to help make Yik Yak a constructive venue for free and productive speech.”
This system gives users most of the control over what stays on the app’s feed.
This means that if the community doesn’t see a problem with a post, it can stay on there for days.
Some of my friends have gone so far as to delete the app to get away from the negativity.
But Yik Yak isn’t always bad.
There are always reminders about school events, deadlines for Soundings, and even messages of support.
I have also seen posts about people expressing how depressed they are or how the pressure of school is getting to them. The comments will fill offering support or resources they can look to.
This is nice to see because it isn’t easy asking for help, and anonymity may make it more comfortable.
As this app grows on campus, I hope those who use it think about how their post could affect someone. I’m not asking a lot, just be a decent human being.