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Saturday, September 18, 2021

Yik Yak returns to North Texas with mixed reactions

Article Originally Published by Max Lockhart on North Texas Daily

Article Originally Published by Max Lockhart on North Texas Daily

The messaging app Yik Yak has returned to campus in time for the new semester and is being met with mixed reactions from students.

Originally launched in 2013, the anonymous-based messaging app quickly rose in popularity across university campuses in the United States. This success lasted until 2017, when the app was shut down after facing waves of criticism for users posting threats and making racist comments.

Now the social media app is attempting a comeback, hoping to appeal to a new generation of college students. On Aug. 16, Yik Yak announced its return on Twitter.

“I understand the anonymous aspect is probably nice for people who just have thoughts or want to vent without worrying about people judging them for it,” said Bee, a history sophomore who wished to be identified only by their first name. 

The current version of Yik Yak functions like it did upon the app’s initial release. Individuals who download Yik Yak can see posts from anyone else within a 5 mile radius. Users can comment under posts and the app also has an upvote/downvote feature. 

Yik Yak encourages users to read its community guidelines, dubbed the “Community Guardrails.” These guidelines cover a wide range of issues, including sharing personal information, harassment and soliciting. On Twitter, Yik Yak stated it is a space “where everyone is free to be authentic, equal and local.”

“I would not download it, personally,” graduate accounting student Duncan Coleman said. “I guess I’m not really into an anonymous app like that. It feels so weirdly impersonal, in a way. I think I get why people use it — because it’s a way to vent.” 

Many current posts made in the Denton area involve people trying to connect with one another in person. Other posts promote public discourse on various topics, such as the COVID-19 face mask debate, the university’s parking situation and the new Kanye West album. In some cases, a user will request suggestions for the best place in Denton to get certain foods. 

“It seems like there’s a lot of people just looking to hook up, but some people are genuinely looking for friends,” said Lauren Jacoby, a sophomore at Texas Woman’s University and longtime Yik Yak user.

Jacoby recalled first hearing about Yik Yak from her sister when the app was released and felt “like it was an app to just kind of mess around and be funny.”

However, Lauren said there are a few things potential users should keep in mind while enjoying themselves on Yik Yak.

“Don’t put your real info out there on Yik Yak, because I feel like that’s just asking for a disaster,” Jacoby said. “And don’t meet up with someone in a place where you could be hurt, potentially. If you say something controversial, be prepared to get those downvotes. Just don’t post anything that you wouldn’t want some feedback on.” 

Richard Furtick, a geology graduate student, also used Yik Yak when it was first released. He remembered how the app was used on campus when he was an undergraduate.

“You got the entire campus snapshot of what was going on, and that was kind of cool,” Furtick said. “It was a very organic, everyone-seemed-like-they-were-doing-it kind of thing.” 

Furtick remembered how students would gather around the preachers who spoke near the Business Leadership Building and make posts about their encounters on Yik Yak. 

“I don’t know if [the Yik Yak developers] made the app better for its weaknesses [with the new version],” Furtick said. “If [Yik Yak] has, more power to them.”

Featured Illustration by Miranda Thomas

Source: North Texas Daily

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