Yik Yak: Cool or Cruel?

New social media app sparks gossip frenzy at SHS

BY KEIRA KILKENNY, STAFF WRITER

The social media app, Yik Yak, has been sparking gossip over the last few weeks, causing unnecessary stress, drama and distractions.

Yik Yak is a social media platform, only available on IOS, where people within five miles can anonymously post and interact with each other on this app. It is advertised on the App Store as 17+, however high school and middle school students, as young as 11, are still using it.

The Yik Yak app claims to be for interacting with your local community to “stay positive, work together, and always have each other’s backs.” However, this anonymous social media app is proving to work differently than the founders planned. 

The app states, “We’re committed to combating bullying on our platform by any means necessary. If someone bullies another person, makes a threat, or seriously violates the Community Guardrails or Terms of Service, they can be immediately banned. One strike and you’re out.”

To note, these guardrails say users “can be” immediately banned, which implies it’s not always the immediate “one strike” case. Many students on the app actively complain of getting reported posts taken down, but are clearly still active users.

Students and teachers have faced the issue of bullying on this new app, as well as students being inappropriate during school hours.

A screenshot from Sanford Yik Yak edited for privacy.

Due to the mixed reactions, I surveyed more than 50 SHS students to get their perspectives on the app.

Of the students surveyed, more than 40% said that they are on Yik Yak, and 30% of those users are actively interacting with the app (posting, commenting, or voting).

I got mixed results when I asked what they thought about Yik Yak. Only 3% of the students said that they loved it, while more than 30% of the students completely disagreed.

Yik Yak is a popular app among all grades, however, the debate on its overall effect on teens seems to be controversial. 

According to a 2017 article from The New York Times, Yik Yak was first launched in 2013 but was eventually shut down in 2017 due to body shaming, racist content, sexual harassment and threats of gun violence and murder. Several schools banned the app causing its popularity to plummet, leading to its shut down.

The app was relaunched last year, but has recently regained its popularity. The creators have made a promise to take a stronger stand against cyberbullying and abuse, by adding a “Mental Health Resources“ page, along with a “Community Guardrails” section. 

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