What’s up with Yak? Anonymous messaging app invades UNO campus


By Jackson Taylor, News Editor

“Share your thoughts and keep your privacy.” Some call it offensive and destructive. Others call it a perfect way for college students to communicate—the latest and greatest social media application; the “anonymous Twitter.”
Yik Yak, the app that has grown by hundreds of thousands of users in under a year, has recently created a stir at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.
Started in 2013 by two Furman University students, Tyler Droll and Brooks Buffington, Yik Yak has swept the nation, mostly at colleges, allowing students to post whatever is on their mind all while remaining completely anonymous.
The app is different than other anonymous messaging apps like Whisper and Secret in that Yik Yak users can only see and interact with what others are posting within a five mile radius, and they must do it in 200 characters or less. It allows users to scroll through “yaks,” similar to a Twitter feed, and vote the yak up or down.
Although the company has not yet monetized, Droll and Buffington raised $10 million in June to expand the app, a figure which continues to grow. The company has also considered the idea of reaping profits through advertising in the future.
Just like with every other anonymous messaging site, a platform for controversial, racist and downright disgusting posts is created. Yik Yak has a general self-regulating policy, meaning that users can flag, downvote or email Yik Yak to have an offensive post removed. Buffington says that the company is doing all it can to curb the amount of cyberbullies on the app.
“There are always going to be a few bad apples who probably use it inappropriately on your campus,” Buffington said in a Q&A with The Lower Light. “But the more people that get on the app, the more diverse its user-ship becomes and the better it is at getting the inappropriate stuff off quickly and becoming a more and more constructive use of social media.”
Colleges across the country have seen the impact the app has on students. Yik Yak can sometimes breed cyberbullying and rumors that are hurtful to the student body.
The Creighton University Student Union saw the harm of the app and was quick to issue an open statement to all students:
“At Creighton, we have noticed increased negative and derogatory comments towards both individuals and student organizations. We would like to urge all members of the Creighton community to cease using the Yik Yak app and immediately delete it from their phones.”
UNO has not yet issued a statement on Yik Yak, but with a growing number of inappropriate posts, one could come soon.
Yik Yak made its appearance at UNO at the beginning of the school year. The app spread like wildfire as students found out they could yak whatever they wanted, about their professors, the kid that smells weird on the shuttle or the pug in the library.
Starting with just a few users on campus, UNO’s Yik Yak feed is now bustling with hundreds of yaks per day.
“I like the idea of being able to say whatever I want with no repercussions,” freshman Colton Boisen said.
Some have hypothesized a “day of reckoning” that will come when Yik Yak decides to reveal the username behind each yak. But this day will never come.
Anonymity is the reason college students are turning to Yik Yak instead of Twitter. It’s a classic case of people hiding behind their keyboards­—complaining, bickering and offending with no chance of backlash.
Whether you find Yik Yak inappropriate, informative or just entertaining, it’s taking over UNO and doesn’t show any signs of slowing down.