What is the Yik Yak App?

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What is the Yik Yak App?

August 30, 2021

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What is the Yik Yak app?

  • Yik Yak is a messaging board app that allows users to see messages from other users who are within 5 miles of their location (as well as top local and nationwide Yaks - similar to Tweets)
  • Users must allow the app to use their device’s location
  • After downloading the app, users enter a phone number to “Verify Your Humanity,” which sends a text message to the phone number for verification
  • A message is known as a “yak” and is visible to a “herd.” The “herd” is anyone within a 5-mile radius of the user
  • Yik Yak reminds users “Yaks are anonymous so speak your mind, but remember to review our Community Guardrails and always be kind”
  • Users earn a Yakarma score based on points from other users’ up or down votes in yaks and comments. Users start with 100 points and the Yakarma score is not visible to others unless the user chooses to share it via text, email, or to another social media account on their device

Why should parents care about Yik Yak?

  • Encouraging teens to be “authentic and anonymous” often encourages them to say or do things they would not normally do, which can be dangerous to themselves and others in extreme situations
  • Even though users are anonymous and the community standards prohibit sharing specific personal or location information, it could be tempting and easy for vulnerable users to share identifiable information. It only takes a small clue for a waiting predator to find another user
  • Since upholding the guidelines is dependent on other users downvoting content, users could likely see messages that contain topics “not allowed” in the community guidelines before they are reported and reviewed by Yik Yak or receive the 5 downvotes to automatically be removed
  • Predators know how to groom victims and put small pieces of information together over time to make their victims vulnerable and/or find them
  • Even though Yakarma is not public unless the user shares it, a score to encourage frequently participating or getting votes can be harmful and contribute to addiction and mis-use of social media

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Green Zone

Parents and Teachers: This app is listed in the SmartSocial.com Green Zone.
We believe this app is a STARTING POINT for your student, but that you must monitor your student on every app they are on. Join our weekly newsletter to learn about the 100+ App Reviews at SmartSocial.com

Gray Zone

Parents and Teachers: Please note this app is listed in the SmartSocial.com Gray Zone.
Parents should participate in these apps with students to keep them safe.
Join our weekly newsletter to learn about the 100+ App Reviews at SmartSocial.com

Red Zone

Parents and Teachers: This app is listed in the SmartSocial.com Red Zone. We believe this app is not safe for students to use without adult supervision. Join our weekly newsletter to learn about the 100+ App Reviews at SmartSocial.com

Dangerous Social media challenges

Parents and Teachers: This app is listed as a Dangerous Social Media Challenge. Knowing about social media challenges before your teen does can help you keep them safe before an incident occurs. Join our weekly newsletter to learn about the 100+ App Reviews at SmartSocial.com

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Students often want to find a place to express themselves where they will be heard and to connect with others where they feel “safe” and are not judged. The Yik Yak app is an example of where users say they feel “safe” based on promised anonymity and think they are having fun following along with other people’s messages. Yik Yak, and other apps that promise anonymity still leave the door open for trouble if users are not cautious.

Parent & educator training video

What is the Yik Yak app?

  • Yik Yak is a messaging board app that allows users to see messages from other users who are within 5 miles of their location (as well as top local and nationwide Yaks - similar to Tweets)
  • Users must allow the app to use their device’s location
  • After downloading the app, users enter a phone number to “Verify Your Humanity,” which sends a text message to the phone number for verification
  • A message is known as a “yak” and is visible to a “herd.” The “herd” is anyone within a 5-mile radius of the user
  • Yik Yak reminds users “Yaks are anonymous so speak your mind, but remember to review our Community Guardrails and always be kind”
  • Users earn a Yakarma score based on points from other users’ up or down votes in yaks and comments. Users start with 100 points and the Yakarma score is not visible to others unless the user chooses to share it via text, email, or to another social media account on their device

What do the Yik Yak Community Guardrails cover?

“Yik Yak is where communities are free to be authentic, equal, and empowered to connect with people nearby... You are responsible for your yaks and their consequences and your interactions with other yakkers. We urge you to be cautious about your interactions.”

  • Yaks are monitored based on other users downvoting the message and reporting it
  • Yaks that receive 5 down votes are automatically removed from Yik Yak and those reported are reviewed (unless they are automatically removed with five downvotes)
  • “In some cases where the category of violation is serious, users will be banned via our one-strike-and-you’re-out policy.” www.yikyak.com/community-guardrails
  • What’s not allowed?
  • ~ Identifying people
  • ~ Identifying children
  • ~Personal information
  • ~Bullying, violence, and threats
  • ~Suicide and self-injury
  • ~Hate speech
  • ~Criminal acts (including illegal drug connections)
  • ~Sexual content, including sexual harassment, pornography, and solicitation

Where is Yik Yak available and who can use it?

Apple App Store: 12+
Google Play: T (Teen) (The app was seen for a brief time in August 2021 on Google Play but was quickly removed again. Yik Yak, Inc. says it will be available on more devices soon.)
Yik Yak Terms: Users must be at least 13 years old, but the app has no age verification other than users saying they agree to the terms of use
Yik Yak Privacy Policy

Owned by Yik Yak, Inc. Based in Nashville, TN

Yik Yak dangers in the news

“[The founders] hadn't anticipated the intense online bullying on Yik Yak at high schools... They hadn't expected that flippant comments about sexual violence and other danger would be directed at women so often that a group of 72 feminist organizations would file a Title IX civil rights complaint…” - NY Times

“Several threats on the anonymous messaging app Yik Yak spiked fears across the university already on edge over lingering racial tension...The vile posts fueled fears of violence and backlash at the embattled Columbia campus…” - NY Daily News

“In Yorktown, a 15-year-old high school student was arrested Sept. 16 after police say he posted that the ‘school would explode.’ He was charged with juvenile delinquency.” -WGRZ

Is Yik Yak safe?

  • Encouraging teens to be “authentic and anonymous” often encourages them to say or do things they would not normally do, which can be dangerous to themselves and others in extreme situations
  • Even though users are anonymous and the community standards prohibit sharing specific personal or location information, it could be tempting and easy for vulnerable users to share identifiable information. It only takes a small clue for a waiting predator to find another user
  • Since upholding the guidelines is dependent on other users downvoting content, users could likely see messages that contain topics “not allowed” in the community guidelines before they are reported and reviewed by Yik Yak or receive the 5 downvotes to automatically be removed
  • Predators know how to groom victims and put small pieces of information together over time to make their victims vulnerable and/or find them
  • Even though Yakarma is not public unless the user shares it, a score to encourage frequently participating or getting votes can be harmful and contribute to addiction and mis-use of social media

How can students be safe while using Yik Yak?

  • This app is in the SmartSocial.com Red Zone and we recommend students are not on this app. Look for social media opportunities in the Green and Gray Zone of the Popular Apps List for alternatives to being social and safe online
  • Remind students that nothing online is ever completely anonymous or disappearing and posting threats of violence is a legal offense in most states. Yik Yak says they work with local police with tracking technology when threats are posted and teens have faced legal charges from their threats on Yik Yak in the past
  • Help students set and enforce their own screen-time limits to combat the urge to frequently check-in or post for the temptation of improving a meaningless Yakarma score
  • Join the VIP (Very Informed Parent) program to get more updates and learn how students can use social media to have fun and someday Shine Online

Conclusion

Even though they took a break for several years, the basis of Yik Yak is the same and is dangerous to students and communities. Parents and educators can help students find other social media options or channels for social interaction to have fun and be safe.

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