Yik Yak’s sought to be an anonymous bulletin board for college students, yet it looks more like a tool for cyberbullying in middle schools and high schools across the nation.
Yik Yak is a 4-month-old application that uses locations to connect users to nearby users and creates an anonymous social chat room. On Yik Yak, users are limited to 200 characters, no pictures are allowed, and there are no usernames required. Yik Yak is essentially a blank canvas where users can write whatever they want about whomever they want and have no fear about their identity being exposed.
What originally was intended to be a virtual bulletin board for college students, Yik Yak has now become more of a platform for cyberbullying for middle school and high school students. School administrations across the nation are outraged over Yik Yak. At one school in Chicago, students anonymously wrote about a rape that took place on campus exposing the victim and mocking the act. At another school in southern California, the whole school had to go on lockdown after a student posted a bomb threat on Yik Yak.
In an interview for CNN, co-founder of Yik Yak, Brooks Buffington, admitted that Yik Yak has strayed from it’s original intention, but stressed that the Yik Yak team is working to eliminate these issues across campuses nation wide by geo-sensing every high school and middle school in America. That way if students who are not in college and of age try and open the application on middle school or high school grounds they will be blocked out.
Although geo-sensing sounds like a solution to the problem, supporters of anti-cyberbullying say this is only a quick fix and fear students will get around it by using it in places outside of school. The real issue is that although you must be 17 years old to use Yik Yak there is no real way to prevent somebody younger from using it. Since there are no real legal requirements for these apps, no company is going to waste their time creating something that app users don’t even want.
In these past months, Yik Yak has further exposed the lack of rules in the technological world and reinstated fear into many school administrations and parents. As time continues it will be fascinating to watch how the team over at Yik Yak handles the bad press and how successfully they execute the geo-sensing.