What is everybody yakkin’ about?
Most of us have all probably heard of the famous app known as Yik Yak. For those of you though who perhaps aren’t so hip, Yik Yak is an app that lets people within a five mile radius interact anonymously with one another. Think of it as Twitter without the hassle of followers or privacy.
Now while Yik Yak is a huge up and coming business, it has had many set backs due to the “dangerous” nature of the content posted. All of this leads me to ask the question of whether we control social media or does social media control us? Who really is to blame when social media transitions from fun to harmful?
The Downsides of Riding the Yak
‘”If this woman doesn’t stop talking, I’m going to rape her'”. Imagine being a speaker at a large university, your presentation ends, the kids get up to leave the auditorium and you turn on your phone to see this message pop up on one form of your social media. This is exactly what happened to Danielle Keats Citron after she gave a presentation at Duke University and saw this exact message referencing one of her colleagues who had been speaking earlier. It is messages like this, messages of hatred, racism, bigotry, that make Yik Yak such an unpopular app among scholars, teachers, professionals, and parents.
The New York Times see Yik Yak as a new form of cyber bulling that allows for no accountability. The problem with anonymity is that no one can be held responsible, this leaves people hurt and without anyway to seek retribution towards those bullies hiding under the mask of Yik Yak.
The Future of the Yak
Something major to note though, and something that Wired discusses, is that anonymity can be good. It allows for identity development, creativity, and a boldness that places like Twitter and Facebook have a tendency to restrict due to the creation of a profile. Yik Yak gives the shy kid a place to share his jokes and allows the jock to express his love of ballet. Yik Yak allows for people scared to shed their stereotypes a place to be free once and for all.
Yik Yak can be whatever you want it to be, whether that is a place for harassment or a place to explore yourself, the only ones who get to decide what the content looks like are the users. The future of Yik Yak and the social media trend of anonymity is in our hands.