Yik Yak App's Anonymous Gossipy Posts Outlawed by Schools

Tuesday, 11 Mar 2014 10:19 AM

By Alexandra Ward

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Yik Yak, the new gossip app that acts as a virtual burn book, is making more enemies than friends after a handful of schools from California to Alabama to Illinois outlawed the messaging service.

A sort of Snapchat-Twitter hybrid, Yik Yak allows users to see what others around them are saying. The catch is it's all anonymous. Users can write anything they want and the app then filters the posts by location using a phone's GPS. The blurbs appear in a Twitter-esque newsfeed and then disappear.

Users must confirm that they're 17 or older in order to download the app, but all that really entails is tapping an "I agree" button.

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"No profiles, no passwords, it’s all anonymous," reads the app’s description in the iPhone App Store. "Your popularity, race, gender, sexuality, and looks don’t mean anything on Yik Yak. Anonymity levels the playing field. You can be the quietest person on campus and the most popular poster on Yik Yak. The only thing you are judged on is the content that you have created, nothing else."

But the problem is that high school students are using Yik Yak to verbally bash each other. One high school student in the Chicago area told CNN affiliate WLS that her classmates used the app to "rip on" or make fun of a girl who was reportedly raped.

"Unfortunately, these apps make it impossible to trace the source of comments, and as a result teens often feel emboldened to target fellow students or make lewd or otherwise damaging posts," Denise Hibbard, principal of the Winnetka campus of the New Trier Township High School district, said in a letter to parents last week, according to NBC Chicago.

Brooks Buffington, co-founder of Yik Yak, told CNN that the app was never meant for high school students to use.

"The app was made for college-age users or above, for college campuses and to act as a virtual bulletin board, so it acts as local Twitter for their campus," he said.

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