Yik Yak App Opens Floodgates for New Form of Cyberbullying

Thursday, 06 Mar 2014 01:35 PM

By Alexandra Ward

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Yik Yak, a new gossip app that some are calling an anonymous burn book, has opened the floodgates to a whole new world of cyberbullying.

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.

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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.

"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 many high school students are using Yik Yak to slander and verbally bash their classmates, prompting administrators at schools from Massachusetts to Illinois to send letters home to parents this week.

New Trier Township High School in Chicago even went as far as to block the app from the school's wireless network, the Chicago Tribune reported.

"While we know we cannot eliminate all of these apps and social networks that offer anonymity to our students, we can work together to help them understand how the digital footprint they leave now may affect them and others for years to come," district principals Denise Hibbard and Paul Waechtler said in a letter sent to parents Wednesday.

Another Chicago-area high school also sent a letter home, saying that students found to be using Yik Yak may face disciplinary action.

Marblehead High School in Massachusetts had to be evacuated twice this week after anonymous Yik Yak users made unspecified threats, CBS Boston reported.

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