The social media platform Yik Yak has become popular among Troy students, but by allowing users to remain anonymous, the controversial app has both advantages and disadvantages.
Yik Yak allows users to make short, textual posts without revealing their identities.
Posts can then only be viewed by people within a few miles of each other.
Users also have the choice of giving a post an “upvote” or a “downvote.”
An upvote increases the number of people who will see the post, but five negative votes will remove it altogether.
Joshua O’Daniel, a junior biomedical sciences major from Carmel, Indiana, is concerned that anonymity emboldens people to be cruel or offensive.
“[It is] a toxic place for people to bully and harass people anonymously without having to worry about repercussions,” O’Daniel said. “There is nothing positive about it.”
However, Chloe Rensink, a freshman theater major from Daphne, Alabama, thinks that the app does an excellent job of removing obscene posts.
While she dislikes seeing drama and bullying on the app, she finds Yik Yak to be more useful than problematic.
“I like knowing how other people think or feel without knowing who they are. I also like knowing what people are up to locally, such as events and hangouts,” Rensink said.
Yik Yak could be a good place to recommend local businesses, share funny anecdotes or post a benevolent rant about a relatable issue.
On the other hand, it could easily be misused as a place for cyberbullying and hate speech.
“It can be useful as a message board, like if someone needed to find a tutor for a class,” said Gordon Sherill, a freshman computer science major from Pensacola, Florida, “but I still think it’s a terrible app that no one should be on.”
Sherill knows firsthand how it feels to have untrue rumors about his friends posted on Yik Yak.
He said he feels that Yik Yak does a poor job of removing offensive content.
“It is terrible for mental health,” Sherill said. “[People] feel like they can get away with saying nearly anything.”
Grice Davis, a freshman music industry major from Midland City, Alabama, regularly recommends the app to his friends.
He thinks it is a great way to socialize with people outside his normal circle of friends.
“My favorite thing is that more students can connect with each other,” Davis said.
“For example, I made a post talking about hockey teams there, and people were talking about hockey with me.”
The student body appears to be divided on the merits of Yik Yak and whether or not it is positive or negative.
The app first launched in 2013 and at one time boasted more than 200 million active users. However, it failed to maintain user engagement and was shut down four years later after seeing many location and school bans of the company. Bullying, hate speech and other posts also required Yik Yak provide data to legal authorities.
YikYak relaunched in August 2021.