Social media site Yik Yak takes college campuses by storm
By Joe Zylka
The next big thing in social media is here—and it will remain anonymous. At college campuses across the nation, students have been furiously downloading Yik Yak, a social media app that launched in November 2013 and is adding a new hilarious and inappropriate element to college life everywhere.
Yik Yak has been compared to Twitter because it is a continuous feed of updates from users. However, it is different from Twitter because the posts on Yik Yak are anonymous.
Yik Yak utilizes the user’s current location and displays all of the “Yaks” within a 1.5- mile radius of that location. While residential neighborhoods may be boring on the Yak feed; college campuses are anything but boring.
Students on Yik Yak post about everything from experiences in class to what they’ve seen around campus to sexual conquests and more. When users see a Yak on their feed, they can either “up-vote” or “down-vote” the post, which is basically a “like” or a “dislike” to that post. If a post gets five down votes, it is deleted from users’ feeds for safety reasons.
Yik Yak also allows users to peek at hundreds of college campuses across the country to see what they’re Yaking about. While the user can’t reply to or vote on posts from other places, it allows one to see what’s popular at almost every college in America.
“I like Yik Yak,” said Schoolcraft Freshman Megan Bis. “It’s very entertaining, especially the posts at big universities.”
However, not everyone sees humor in the new network. Schools in Chicago, New Mexico and Vermont have banned the usage of the app because of bullying concerns and the targeting of specific students. Although too many down votes will delete the Yak, inappropriate Yaks usually become the ones that make the Hot List; the list of Yaks that have the most up votes and are the most popular.
“There is an element of dehumanization to it,” said Nancy Berns, a professor at Drake University in an interview with USA Today. “When you strip away that human contact, there is a tendency to stop thinking about the receiver of your message as another person with a life and feelings.”
“I don’t think Yik Yak causes bullying or has a bullying problem on it,” Bis said. “Most people that use it here just post opinions, never names, and most people that use it are mature and use it for entertainment and opinions only.”
Immediately after downloading Yik Yak, users agree to not bully or harass other Yakkers. However, because it is anonymous, students say things on Yik Yak that they normally wouldn’t say in a face-to-face setting or if their name was tied to the post.
Fortunately, fun and creative posts or witty one-liners balance the inappropriate and rude behavior out.
The Editorial Board of The Chronicle at Duke University put it best, saying, “as long as it is not used towards malicious ends, it seems harmless for now.”
Yak on, Schoolcraft. Just be sure to Yak for laughs, not bullying.