- Category: Volume 86 (Fall 2014 - Spring 2015)
- Published: 17 September 2014
Ride the Yak. Ride the... what? You might be familiar with this phrase if you have already downloaded the app Yik Yak. Though it launched in December, the app has just begun to circulate amongst students on campuses across the nation and right here at the University.
Created by two recent college graduates, the app is designed to act as an online community and "virtual bulletin board." The app detects your location and creates a feed within a 1.5 mile radius.
This is why college students are grabbing a hold of it so rapidly. Postings are completely anonymous and a username is not required, so it makes it simple to share thoughts you might not necessarily share if people knew it was coming from you. After all, Yik Yak's motto is "share your thoughts, keep your privacy." The app encourages anyone within your location radius to post jokes, thoughts, questions, etc. without anyone having any way to find out who posted it. The post comes up in the feed as whatever you shared with two arrows next it, which signals other "yaks" to either up-vote or down-vote it, basically like or dislike it.
Other yaks can reply to the comments as well. Yakking is similar to tweeting except it is unique in its anonymity factor. There is also "Yakarma" which is a numbered score the user gets from up-voting other yaks or getting up-voted themselves.
Other features include specific types of yaks. These include content like "freshman tips" and "yik yak dating tips" which are often sarcastic and meant to be humorous. Users can also browse popular yaks from other colleges in the country.
Freshman Erica Weever said, "I think yik yak is a cool app, but that's only if people don't start to get all annoying with it and abuse it. It only takes one person to ruin things or make it not fun for everyone else, but for now it's pretty cool and I check it out on my phone when I'm just hanging around or whatever."
There are some rules to the app. Six listed terms of conditions which warn against bullying, offensive yaks, and posting private information are included in the app. There are repercussions for students who post private information of others and get reported. While Yik Yak does acknowledge cyber bullying, it still draws a fine line between whether or not it encourages it with ability to post anonymously.
Specialist communication Professor, Mary Harris said, "Virtually any social media website can be used for good or bad. The choice is in the hands of the user. With that, anonymous bulletin board-style social sites such as Yik Yak can indeed encourage cyber bullying because anonymity is the focus of the platform, so many users feel that there are no repercussions for their actions," Harris said. "From a PR perspective, some companies use anonymous apps to learn about human behavior and see what people are talking about. When it comes to anonymous apps, there is a positive side, but unfortunately since mostly trolling occurs, the positives are often overshadowed. sues," she said.
The app was created with the intention of being meant to socialize positively, however. It could benefit particular students in need of advice or just to share experiences that are common to other students.
"It's cool for freshman because if someone else says something that you think or have gone through you know you're not the only one thinking that way or going through that. And it's all anonymous so you have that whole thing playing into you being able to open up more and share your thoughts without being judged and stuff." Weever said.
The app seems to be more useful to freshman finding their way instead of upperclassmen who have established themselves.
Melissa Pravata, senior communications major, sees the app as helpful to younger students.
"I've never heard of Yik Yak. I think freshman are using it to stay more in loop with what's going on, it is a way to start conversation and become more familiar with Monmouth," she said.
The power of these apps can be frightening, but not if they are put to use properly.
"One main positive aspect of these platforms is that it can encourage people to discuss important issues and current events without the fear of being judged harshly," Harris said.
Whether you decide to participate in Yik Yak or not, remember to yak wisely. What you post in the virtual world can never really be deleted.
IMAGE TAKEN by Kelly Hughes