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Yik Yak is the hip, college-aged cousin of apps like Secret and Whisper, both anonymous online communities where users can swap secrets and make confessions. Unlike those apps, Yik Yak is centered around the college campus experience—an approach not unlike the early days of Facebook, which initially rolled out school by school, well before it swelled into the most massive social network ever created.
On Yik Yak, users make posts (called “Yaks”), which can be commented on and up or down-voted. In theory, this voting system self regulates in a way similar to how Reddit is supposed to work. Unlike just about any other social app out there, Yik Yak is laser-focused on college students—a pretty brilliant move considering that Facebook is known to be losing young users to other, newer networks. Part of the appeal is a narrowed demographic focus: If your mom is on Facebook, she’s probably a good five years out from having any idea what Yik Yak is.
Those are a few reasons we think Yik Yak is a big deal, but we’re not calling the shots around here. That’s why we asked a handful of college-aged students what they thought about the Yak.
I’m sort of annoyed that I can’t reach people beyond a local vicinity, but at least you can still peep different places. The downfall with geotagging is that I can’t post or respond when I’m at my own apartment simply because it’s “too close to a school” that is on my street. It’s just a flawed way of confirming its user’s ages…
It’s definitely growing to be a perfect way to round people up for events & inform people… sort of a troll’s paradise since it’s all anonymous, but you can filter that on your own/combat it with snarky remarks.
It’s disconcerting how much hate speech I see on it. I’ve seen a lot of racist, homophobic, and simply degrading comments. People seem to love the idea of hiding behind their anonymity, it’s interesting and very frustrating to see how some people manipulate/use it for ill will. There’s a lot of sorority/fraternity bullshit. – Sarah, 20, University of Alabama at Birmingham
I can’t think of anything I dislike.
I like the idea of Yik Yak. If you don’t like something you can down-vote it and with enough down-votes, the Yak will be taken off. So if someone says something hateful it is normally taken down within a few minutes. It’s for people to anonymously say anything they want. – Anonymous, 18, Elementary Education major
I mainly read all of the Yaks. Especially in the morning, like the other day I found out I shouldn’t wear a hat because it was extremely windy. I like that you can downvote Yaks, and if you are on a college campus there are constantly new Yaks to read because so many people post. I can’t think of anything I dislike. I see how there could be bad in using it and what could be wrong such as hateful comments about someone, but things like that normally get taken off quickly because of the down-votes. – College undergraduate
The slut-shaming, the racist yaks and the fact that a lot of yaks were guys complaining about being “friend-zoned” – it was like high school all over again…
I used to [use Yik Yak] but I recently just deleted the app, it became an area where students felt that they were superior due to anonymity and thus began slut-shaming and spewing racist ideology.
I would sometimes yak about how much the weather sucked or how Rowan’s parking system wasn’t well thought-out.
The slut-shaming, the racist yaks and the fact that a lot of yaks were guys complaining about being “friend-zoned” – it was like high school all over again… TKE [Tau Kappa Epsilon] had sex video scandal and I found out about it first over yik yak, that was a highly publicized story. – Anonymous, 19, Rowan University
I don’t like the idea of Yik Yak. It is for posting anonymous thoughts and messages. I think that Yik Yak can be really funny but it is also an easy way to say things to people that you would never say if people knew it was you. – Anonymous, 19, Communications Student
From the outside looking in as someone who doesn’t Yik Yak, it seems like a combination of an anonymous Twitter and Tinder. Like a really short amount of entertainment if you’re not around a bunch of people. From what I’ve heard, people use it to say vulgar or mean things because they are anonymous and have a bigger audience, unlike Twitter where I get to pick and choose what I read. – Anonymous, 20, University of Kentucky
I think that you should be able to yak about something without it getting removed.
On Yik Yak I post similar posts that I would post on Twitter that relate to an event on campus or something that has to do with the school.
It is very popular at my school but I feel like it is more popular with the underclass men than the upper class men.
What I like about it is that it is anonymous so that people don’t know who is posting what-it adds to the fun and makes it more fun to up other people’s yaks.
What I don’t like about Yik Yak is that your yak can be deleted if it gets too many down arrows. I think that you should be able to yak about something without it getting removed. – Anonymous, 19, Human Physiology student
Illustration by Jason Reed/Daily Dot
Taylor Hatmaker has reported on the tech industry for nearly a decade, covering privacy and government. Most recently, she was the Debug editor of the Daily Dot. Prior to that, she was a staff writer and deputy editor at ReadWrite, a tech and business reporter for Yahoo News, and the senior editor of Tecca. Her editorial interests include censorship, digital activism, LGBTQ issues, and futurist consumer tech.