Yik Yak, the popular smartphone app spreading across college campuses made its way into UMKC and Rockhurst University at the start of this semester.
Originally created by Furman University graduates Tyler Droll and Brooks Buffington, Yik Yak was given $1.5 million in funding five months after its November 2013 release. Yik Yak functions like Twitter, in which a live feed of posts are displayed in a list. However, posts made to Yik Yak can only be seen and made in a 1.5 mile radius of the user.
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“When I die I want my group project members to lower me into my grave so they can let me down one last time.”
Posts made in the UMKC/Rockhurst area can only be seen when the phone is within range. The same limitations apply to posting to the app as well.
To add further distinction from Twitter, all Yik Yak posts are anonymous. A handle can be added to posts, but there are no “profiles” to know who posted what.
Yik Yak allows users to give playful and sarcastic commentary to college campuses and other heavily populated areas. “When I die I want my group project members to lower me into my grave so they can let me down one last time,” wrote an anonymous user in Yik Yak’s top-ranked post of all time..
The app also adds dry humor to college-oriented conundrums.
“There is no sexy way to get onto a lofted bed,” posted one user. “The Wi-Fi here is the only thing working less than me right now,” said another.
The app has been criticized for being a cyber-bullying tool. The majority of middle and high schools around the country have already put up blocks against it.
Ryan Chapin Mach, writer for The Huffington Post commented on apps like Yik Yak.
“Yik Yak and other local sources of anonymous content are like bathroom stalls without toilets. They’re useless,” Mach said.
The anonymity of posting can lead to a slew of hate-speech and slander.Recently, users have referenecd Mark Hetzler, Rockhurst Associate Dean of Students, as the butt of every joke.
“Mark Hetzler uses Bing,” posted a user. Because the Dean put Rockhurst fraternities on probation for 6 months, he became the scapegoat for every problem, including Ebola, poor test scores and the Cardinals losing.
Yik Yak has implemented a voting system to regulate hateful posts. Users can ‘up-vote’ and ‘down-vote’ posts, which is similar to the system used on the popular website, Reddit. Posts with more than five down-votes are deleted, making sure that the cream rises to the top.
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“The Wi-Fi here is the only thing working less than me right now.”
Each up-vote can count towards the user’s Yakarama score. Much like Reddit and Whose Line is it Anyway?, the points don’t matter.The more clever posts, like “$17,000 worth of merchandise stolen from the bookstore. The culprit was seen walking away with three textbooks and a pair of sweatpants,” tend to earn the most yakarma. Those that name-call an individual are deleted within minutes.
Racist and misogynistic posts can be countered if there are more students involved. Yik Yak is crowd regulated, and there is an option to report hateful posts.
UMKC is slowly making its way onto the Yik Yak feed. However due to a majority of commuter students, it’s difficult to post within the area often.
With Yik Yak, anonymous conversations during a lecture, secret confessions, cheers during the Royals game, and campus inside jokes are free to be posted. The possibilities are endless.