Yik Yak, yes or no: anonymous location-based social app raises concerns (COM0011, post #6)

Want to know what everyone’s saying around you? Well, Yik Yak allows you to do just that – listen to all kinds of comments within a 2.4 kilometre radius. Only you don’t know who’s saying it. And if you contribute, no one will know it was you. It’s an anonymous twitter feed that’s based your on location. And even though it’s not intended for high schools, it has become very popular among secondary and university/college students alike, with a few challenges…

For example, two California high schools were put on lock-down recently after bomb threats were posted via Yik Yak (CBC article). According to the Huffington Post, 11 college students in the US have been charged with threats of violence made through the app this past semester alone. The second challenge is a flaw that de-anonymizes users and even allows hackers to hijack someone’s account through third-party software (Softpedia article). I suppose they can look into fixing that – urgently, I hope. But the last issue is, yet again, cyber-bullying.

Recently, an 18 year-old who was encouraged through the app to end her life after a failed suicide attempt started a petition to fix or get rid of it. So far it has nearly 70,000 signatures. “The app claims to not tolerate bullying or threats, but no action is being taken to remove threatening or harmful posts, or suspend users who write them,” the petition reads.

“That is why I am calling on the inventors of the app to create a stronger set of community standards and employ a zero-tolerance policy for bullying and threats — if they don’t, we want the app removed from the Apple App Store and Google Play immediately.”

But like Snapchat, Yik Yak is taking off in popularity and just received an investment of $62 million. What do you think? Should it be banned in schools? Or are people overreacting?