In a technology-fueled world where people live on their smartphones it’s no surprise when an app takes off and becomes the latest must-have. This is especially true on campus where students take full advantage of smartphone apps to help keep track of their busy class schedules, social lives and homework load. Sometimes an app becomes popular because it’s a distraction from a hectic college schedule.
This is exactly where Yik Yak comes in.
Yik Yak is an app that can be summarized best as an anonymous Twitter, where users are able to post in a community without revealing their identity. The app takes advantage of a phone’s GPS to only allow users’ messages, called Yaks, to be seen by individuals in a one and a half mile radius.
The ability to post anonymously allows users to post Yaks that they likely wouldn’t post on social networks like Twitter, Facebook, or with a picture on Instagram. If a reader likes a Yak they’re able to up vote the post, or if they dislike it they can down vote the post. With enough down votes the post then disappears. Users can also directly reply to Yaks while remaining anonymous.
“I love the Yik Yak app,” says North Central College sophomore Ann Nenoff. “It’s funny and it’s entertaining although there’s a line that gets crossed when people get mean.”
That line gets crossed often enough for some to raise an eyebrow at the app. Yik Yak’s popularity has also increased the number of headlines in the media suggesting that the app promotes cyber bullying with the ability to post anonymously.
Emma Ryan, a senior, agrees with these claims. “I think that people will take advantage of the fact that it is anonymous, which can cause a lot of bullying problems.”
The creators of Yik Yak have taken note of the criticism and have begun taking advantage of geofencing, a technology that ‘fences off’ specific areas using GPS technology. This option is available near schools where cyber bullying is more prevalent and inhibits users from being able to see or post Yaks.
Whether the controversy will negatively affect the app remains to be seen. As of now Yik Yak remains popular on campus.
“I’m always hearing people talk about Yik Yak,” Nenoff continues. “I know a lot of my friends are using it.”
The app is free for iPhone and Android users.