YikYak: an outlet or bullying?

By Maggie Alexander | Social Media Editor

Scrolling on YikYak seems to be addictive. The constant chatter of what is circulating on our campus makes it hard to put your phone down. But what good is this app really doing?

YikYak, for those who do not know, is an anonymous discussion board that connects you to other users who are within a 5-mile radius. The app was created in 2013, but after multiple abuse and cyberbullying accusations, it was taken down in 2017. It wasn’t until last year that the app resurfaced.

What NPR calls “the anonymous app that tested free speech,” YikYak claims users will find their herd. However, the only thing found on this app is slander. Because YikYak is anonymous, the app has created a place where there are no regulations on what can be posted. It’s cutthroat. This generation of users hides behind screens to tear people, places and anything else they want down.

For the sake of this article, I downloaded the app. Within the first five minutes of scrolling through, I saw comments naming users followed by insults, discussion of abortion and pregnancy, comments about drug abuse and even answers to quizzes. The app claims to be regulating what is posted, but what is censored about any of that?

I can’t deny that bullying hasn’t taken place on other social media platforms. Different accounts of slander scatter Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. However, what makes YikYak brutally toxic is that users never have to identify themselves. The app is truly anonymous through what is posted and its registration process. When you download the app for the first time, you don’t enter any information regarding who you are. Nothing can be traced back to you. Users have the chance to say whatever they may please without facing any repercussions.

The removal process of a post in the case of reported cyberbullying again sets the app apart from other social media platforms. The app is based on a system of upvoting and downvoting. When users like and agree with a post, they upvote it. When they disagree, they downvote. In the case of cyberbullying, a post must have five downvotes to be removed by YikYak. Or, the post must be reported where it is then reviewed by the YikYak team. Either way, this process is not efficient enough to protect anyone being bullied online. The anonymous remarks are still being posted. People are still being hurt.

No one is protected from the slander and hatred that YikYak spreads. Let us be the generation that recognizes this is wrong. We should be above it. Delete the app. Release yourself from the negativity this app imposes. We are better than this.