Yik Yak, a newly launched anonymous geolocation application within college campuses has caused some uproar in the media about the implications that the app has on college communities. Similar to Facebook, Yik Yak is strictly targeted towards college students. The application was also created by 2 college graduate students, Tyler Droll and Brooks Buffington. Yik Yak allows users to view trending “Yaks” at other colleges around the nation as well as featured posts of the day, which are made up of current trending topics. In contrast, if a high schooler or middle schooler tries to log on to Yik Yak they will be immediately be prompted to a page that disables the use of the app (See below). Furthermore, Yik Yak implements each user with a “Yakarma” score, which gives active users points when other users like their posts.
Digital media can be used in many positive ways, such as reinforcing social ties and breaking down location barriers to build relationships. However, some users utilize social media and other forms of online communities as a way to inflict violence and act as “cyberbullies”. Many colleges have already petitioned to restrict the use of Yik Yak on campus because the application does not promote a caring community environment. The creators of Yik Yak encourages app users to create a safe space, by abiding by a list of rules, such as no bullying.
However, Yik Yakers often take advantage of the anonymity of the application as they hide behind their screens when making rude jokes and comments about other fellow members of the community. Recently, the massive expansion and growth of the application has caused a lot of media attention, especially in regards to college professors and other faculty members. Many teachers have found that their reputations have been destroyed through the widespread negative use of Yik Yak. Even in my own Digital Media class at UVA, my professor discovered a Yik Yak posted about him and displayed the comment for our entire class to see. Although the Yik Yak was not by any means derogative or hurtful, the professor wanted to prove a point that although the application may be restricted to only college students, other people around the college campus are still able to log on and interact on Yik Yak. The application lacks a student verification process, therefore professors and the rest of UVA faculty are free to roam online to view what students are “Yaking” about. It is our duty to challenge the authority of these applications and tools, especially as they can result in dangerous and harmful impacts on others. A blogger on Huffington Post argues 3 important rules that users need to keep in mind when engaging online, which include: 1. Anonymity is an illusion, 2. Criminal charges, 3. Digital Footprint. 3 Things Kids Need to Know About YIK YAK
In the future, do you think Yik Yak will have to initiate more restrictions in order to ensure an overall safe and anti-bullying environment?