Yik Yak App Stirs Controversy

Yik Yak App Stirs Controversy
  • Opening Intro -

    Ever since the advent of social media and networking, people have been flocking to various websites and making use of a variety of sources to connect with others.

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MySpace was for some time one of the most popular places for young people to flock, with Reddit, Digg and later, Facebook, also attracting the crowds. Today, numerous social media apps have changed the landscape again, including Yik Yak but not without some controversy.

Overview

Yik Yak is an anonymous social media app available for download to iOS and Android backed devices. Users can anonymously create and view posts as well as respond by leaving a replay or by voting them up or down. Yik Yak posts are known as yaks.

Founded by a pair of Furman University graduates — Tyler Droll and Brooks Buffington — Yik Yak was launched in 2013 and is currently the twentieth most downloaded social media app in the United States. The company is headquartered in Atlanta and has more than one dozen employees.

How it Works

Yik Yak can be downloaded for free through an apps store. When downloaded, you will be taken to a page that states: “Yik Yak uses location to show you quality streams of yaks in your area. To do that you’ll need to give us permission to use your location.” Hit the “continue” button and a screen pops up that says: “Yik Yak would like to use your current location.” You will then push “ok” or “don’t allow” — only the former choice makes this app usable.

As soon as you accept Yik Yak, you’ll be taken to a screen showing local messages. Yik Yak uses GPS and works like Twitter: short messages only, but in this case what you write is totally anonymous. Unless you yak something that is illegal — more about that later.

Yik Yak Controversy

Yik Yak is popular on college campuses and may receive thin interest elsewhere. Indeed, when used by this writer in Pittsboro, NC, on the campus of a local community college, interest there was minimal. However, several messages on the board alluded to better activity at larger campuses, including one message that received 15 up votes for stating, “Yik yak is obviously on for college towns.” NC State in Raleigh was one campus that got the props.

While the app has been credited with connecting students across campuses, some of the messages have been deemed racist, sexist or otherwise hateful. Your anonymity is not always guaranteed, especially if you make threats and police get involved.

Last week, a Mass. high school learned about threatening messages made on Yik Yak that were reported to the school by students. An 18-year-old man identifying himself as school shooter posted a message that said: “see you guys in school tomorrow.” Lowell, Massachusetts, police with the help of Yik Yak’s legal department identified the perpetrator and arrested him according to WWLP.com.

Banned on Campus

Though Yik Yak provides easy connectivity, its dark side as evidenced by cyber bullying and terrorist threats, has led some colleges to block its use. Yik Yak has also stepped in by erecting “geo fences” around most elementary and secondary schools across the country.

Higher education is responding in various ways too. For instance, the president of Norwich University in Northfield, Vermont, blocked access to Yik Yak through the school’s computer system, in response to cyber bullying reports according to USA Today. Students can still access Yik Yak on smart phones that don’t use the college’s computer system, but at least Norwich has done its part to limit access.

Freedom of Speech

Although the First Amendment to the US Constitution allows for freedom of speech, limitations are allowed per court rulings. Say anything on Yik Yak or elsewhere that is deemed libelous, slanderous or falls under the “hate speech” umbrella and you may find your rights curtailed and yourself under arrest.

See Also15 Way Cool Social Networking Sites You Never Heard Of

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Categories: Campus News