Yik Yak app creates controversy for BSU community

By Marissa Bean
Comment Staff

Example of an offensive Yik Yak conversation. Photo by Kayla Lemay.
Example of an offensive Yik Yak conversation. Photo by Kayla Lemay.

 

If you’ve been online in the past few months, you’ve probably heard of Yik Yak.
Yik Yak is a social media app for smartphones. It uses your phone’s location to show you posts from people around you. According to Business Insider, the app shows posts made within one and a half miles from your current location.
Oh, and it’s completely anonymous.
The app doesn’t require a log-in. You can post anything you want. Common topics here at BSU include complaints about noise in the residence halls, cuddling, the weather, and the quality of dining hall food.
Users post a message anonymously, and other people can vote on their message. Upvoting means that you like the post, and downvoting means you don’t. You can sort recent posts by the time posted or by the number of positive votes a post has.
You can reply to messages as well. For example, if someone asks about the hours of a certain dining hall, you can anonymously respond.
The anonymous aspect has made Yik Yak a controversial issue for several high schools and colleges. Although users are supposed to be over the age of 17, there are ways around this restriction, making it easy for middle and high school students to access the app.
According to the Today Show website, some schools in the U.S have banned the app after it was used to make direct threats against students.. One school in Connecticut banned the app after students began negatively calling each other out by name.
The app is used widely here at BSU. The anonymity is well-liked by students, including Sarah Lussier, a sophomore majoring in Special Education. “I like that it’s anonymous because I can say whatever I want and not be judged,” she said. “I think it’s funny. It has a funny name, too.”
Angela LaFountain, a sophomore majoring in psychology, also enjoys the anonymous factor. She said, “You can relate to it since it’s from people in your area.”
Despite its popularity, even those who like it still find flaws in it.
“It’s filled with hate,” Lussier said. “People say ‘That girl is so ugly’ or when they describe someone specifically, that person can easily go on and read the post about them.”
It has even caught the attention of the faculty and staff here on campus, although not in the best way.
In an announcement on Oct. 7, Jason Pina, Vice President of Student Affairs, informed students of the concerns that Yik Yak has created.
Pina said in the announcement, “We do not have to look far to see posts which appear to be those of BSU students which run contrary to the values and principles that we have here at BSU,” although he did not mention the app by name.
“However, when posts potentially violate federal and state laws by creating a hostile and harassing environment for students or others, the university will investigate such complaints and may sanction those involved,” Pina said. “Please know that even anonymous postings may potentially be traced back to the poster.”
Whether you love it, hate it, or don’t even use it, it doesn’t look like Yik Yak is going away anytime soon.

Marissa Bean is a Comment staff writer.

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