From a business major at the University of Southern Mississippi to a 15-year-old high school student in New York, the last week has seen a number of incidents where statements made on the anonymous social media app Yik Yak have prompted police involvement.
Yik Yak has been controversial ever since its debut in November of last year. The app functions like an identity-free Twitter page where users can see musing and commentary from others in a 1.5-mile area. Originally touted as a “a city’s central plaza or a campus bulletin board” by its fraternity brother founders, Yik Yak has become increasingly popular among gossip-hungry students. Unsurprisingly, it’s also become a breeding ground for cyberbullying and anonymous threats.
“People feel more comfortable engaging in criminal activity, saying things, doing things they wouldn’t otherwise do if their name was associated with it,” Indiana state police cybercrime Commander Lt. Chuck Cohento told a local Fox affiliate after his department issued a warning to parents about Yik Yak.
Yik Yak has taken steps to keep users under 17-years-old from gaining access to the app, which was designed for “more mature” college students. They’ve even blocked access around middle and high schools. But when it comes to kids and technology, there is only so much that can be done.