Yik Yak is no longer anonymous

Madina Seytmuradova

Variety Editor

Yik Yak, the app famous for its anonymous local postings, has made another step away from preserving the anonymity of its users.

Many users, including Trojans,  voiced their dislike of the change on the app itself.

“Now I can’t post about my problems because of the stupid handle not being optional anymore,” a user with the handle Troyyladyy posted on Aug. 23.     

The change has brought the app’s rating in the Apple Store to one star out of five. Since  its  launch  in 2013, Yik Yak has been moving away from its original total anonymity.

First, it began assigning a picture for every user who commented on a post. Then, it allowed users to have optional usernames known as “handles.” Now, as of Aug. 16, the app has enforced the use of mandatory handles for all users.

In the official announcement of the change, Yik Yak co-founder Tyler Droll said that recognizing the other users in the community, or herd, will bring users closer together.

However, the change also tackles the problem of unpunished harassment and threats on the app that were brought to light last year.

In May 2015, 72 women’s and civil rights groups appealed to the Department of Education to protect college students from harassment on anonymous social media, such as Yik Yak.

In the press conference that ensued, Debra Katz, a lawyer for one of the groups, released a letter to Yik Yak’s founders, Tyler Droll and Stephen Brooks Buffington, calling their attention to the fact that the prime feature of the app, its anonymity, can be harmful.

According to EAB daily, in 2015 alone, 12 people have been arrested for posting threats of mass shootings on Yik Yak. Law enforcement agencies were able to track the people who posted these threats thanks to the app’s privacy policy, which states:

“We also may disclose information if we believe it is necessary to investigate, prevent, or take action regarding illegal activities, suspected fraud, situations involving potential threats to the safety of any person, violations of our Terms of Service or this Policy, or as evidence in litigation in which Yik Yak is involved.”

Despite numerous angry responses to the change, some users support it.

“I think it’s good that it’s not anonymous anymore,” said Ta’Shara Martinestz, a sophomore undeclared major from Geneva. “I think they’ll definitely be more cautious about what they’re putting on there because they have something attached to it.”

Since the handle name can be changed by the user, the anonymity can still be preserved as long as the user does not chose a profile picture.

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