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YikYak is back: why that is concerning to me

YikYak, the anonymous social media app that was shut down four years ago, has recently made a comeback on Miami University’s campus.

The Oxford mask mandate, bars and the “freshman flu” are some of the many topics that are discussed by students on the app. 

With the app, you can write posts known as “Yaks” anonymously, and they can be upvoted or downvoted by the people around you. When people engage with your Yaks by upvoting or downvoting, your ‘Yakarma’ either goes up or down. 

While the app can be very entertaining and funny, I find some of the things that are posted to be very concerning and I find the history of the app to be even more worrisome. 

YikYak was shut down in 2017 after a drop in users and controversy over cyberbullying and harassment. During that time, campuses around the country banned the app due to reports of racist messages and hate speech. 

The app announced its plans to relaunch in August 2021 with new guidelines against bullying. There is now an option to report Yaks and flag posts that contain names, personal information and sexual content. 

Unfortunately, anonymous posting allows for people to post whatever they want with little to no accountability. The only thing that YikYak can really do is delete the post and ban you from the app, which I don’t think is a harsh enough consequence for cyberbullying.

As I scrolled through YikYak the last couple of weeks, I found a good amount of Yaks that I found to be toxic and a lot of the negative comments that I noticed were very degrading and mostly directed towards women.

“Why are the women on here such hogs,” one user posted on the app.

“Why do all hot chicks have the personality of a brick wall,” another user wrote.

Another trend of posts that I have seen was discussion of one’s own mental health in a negative light. 

“4 weeks here [I] already want to pull a Kurt Cobain,” a user posted. 

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While YikYak has a history with cyberbullying and harassment, not everything that is posted on the app is negative. A lot of the posts that I see on the app are shoutouts to random people on campus or relating to each other’s experiences, which can be very refreshing.  

Growing up with social media, I feel like I have gotten used to seeing this type of behavior often played out online. Even though some of the things posted on YikYak have offended me, I have mostly felt completely desensitized to everything and I haven’t seen anything that made me so upset that I’ve needed to take a step back. 

Since YikYak is anonymous, people feel like there are no repercussions for whatever they say. It gives them the opportunity to post anything about other people and it worries me what could come from this. 

I think that the history with this app is doomed to repeat itself, especially since Oklahoma Christian University has already banned the app from its campus due to reports of cyberbullying. 

YikYak may not seem as bad now, but I can see it becoming more and more of a negative environment and I think that anonymity is to blame. 

miskem@miamioh.edu 

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