Imagine being able to say anything you want to people around you without any form of identification. The app Yik Yak allows just this, and it has recently become popular on Maryville College campus. From posts about the campus squirrels to the notorious glitter, there are a wide variety of yaks—the 200-character, anonymous posts made by Yik Yak users. These posts are then visible to any Yik Yak user in the same geographic area regardless of age, who may up vote, down vote or comment on the post.
Many students and faculty are concerned about the popularity that this particular app has gained; however, it seems that most of the commentary is pretty tame, with few observations that could not be posted as tweets on Twitter. Aside from a number of shout outs to attractive peers, there are not many yaks that target any specific person. Anonymous posting could certainly make targeting an issue, but MC students seem to be faithfully “down voting” offensive yaks, which are removed after five down votes.
Students on campus have mixed opinions on the use of Yik Yak. “I think it’s freedom of speech,” said junior Maddie McGuire. Many students share this sentiment, arguing that similar things could be voiced on any social media site.
Some have even found usefulness in the app. “As an RA, I find it to be very beneficial because I know what is happening in my building,” said Mark Ostrowski, a junior.
Other students, however, believe that Yik Yak causes more problems than it is worth. “I think that it could cause some trouble because people abuse it,” said senior Joni Burrell.
“It’s kind of scary. I get worried that my friends or I will be called out on there. It alerts people to what is going on, but it draws attention to the wrong things,” said Shea Bryant, a junior.
Many students admit that they find the app to be entertaining but do not fully support the concept.
“I believe Yik Yak is a cowardly way to state your opinions of people rather than speaking directly to them. I understand that it can be a source of expression, but it can be used for bad just as easily as it can be used for fun,” said sophomore Ryan Indelicato.
Both sides of the argument offer valid points. While each and every student is entitled to freedom of speech, issues can easily arise if threats or derogatory comments are being made.
However, it appears that the potential Yik Yak has to create problems is more worrisome than anything that has actually occurred thus far.
Though considering the ethics of anonymous posts raises some important questions, they may not be worth too much time and energy. Like many other apps of its kind, Yik Yak is likely to die out after the initial excitement subsides. Over the past couple of weeks, the rapidness of posts has already decreased significantly, signaling a decline in interest.
This is not the first time that the college has dealt with anonymous posting. In years past, several anonymous Twitter accounts have surfaced, but they quickly lost popularity or were removed. It would make sense for Yik Yak to follow this trend as well, but even with the dying of one controversy, we can expect another to soon surface. Now we are left to contemplate what will come our way next and hope that we can learn from trends such as Yik Yak.