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Old Gold & Black

Old Gold & Black

Scott Kull: The new Director of Athletics
Abigail Taylor, Contributing Writer • April 16, 2024

The return of YikYak

Yik Yak logo. The anonymous chat app has made a resurgence, particularly on college campuses, such as Wofford. Photo courtesy of Azurecap.com.
Yik Yak logo. The anonymous chat app has made a resurgence, particularly on college campuses, such as Wofford. Photo courtesy of Azurecap.com.

A Wofford Gossip Girl?

YikYak, the controversial app that got taken off app stores in April 2017 due to multiple schools banning it, has made its return. It has been nearly four years since the anonymous app has sparked drama throughout campuses across the country, but that did not stop students from downloading it once again.

YikYak allows users to anonymously post anything they please – text only. The post may then be viewed by anyone in a five-mile radius. Once a post is made public it can be “upvoted” or “downvoted”, similar to the “like” or “dislike” system. The more upvotes a particular post has, the more popular it becomes, increasing the chances of people reading it on the “hot” page.

The app may seem harmless at first, but it presents a potential new spin on cyberbullying. The anonymous feature allows any user to post anything, no matter how harmful, about anyone or anything. There is no way to immediately delete other people’s posts, but there is an option to report a post, which could eventually lead to it being deleted after a review. Even then, there is still time for that post to reach a few hundred people; however, the posts, like on any other social media platform, can be captured in a screenshot.  

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Throughout reading the hundreds of YikYaks posted by Wofford students, it seems as though users are attacking the First Years in many of the posts. Lots of comments under the posts contain fairly slanderous words directed toward First Years, one of the less explicit being along the lines of, “Someone get the freshmen off the app”.

However, most of the users on YikYak don’t take it too seriously. An anonymous post read, “Therapy costs money, but YikYak is free.” Is this to suggest that YikYak is a new form of self expression? Evidently, some have found a cathartic use for the app.

The serious problems arise when names get thrown into the mix. Although many of the posts targeting specific people come from their friends as jokes, there is no in-app way to know who exactly the post came from. An argument could be made that this might have a profound effect on the mental health of Wofford students. 

Upon reading through the YikYak posts, it became evident that one student’s name was getting a lot of publicity. After reaching out to the student, who asked to remain anonymous (somewhat ironic), about how being talked about on YikYak so much made them feel, they made the following statement: “It doesn’t bother me much at all. I know it’s probably one of those things that people will forget about as soon as the next popular thing comes around.”

As for now, YikYak seems to be relatively harmless and playful, but how will it escalate in the future? Will it once again get banned from schools, or will it stay around longer than last time? It may seem like a real-life version of Gossip Girl, but, in this version, the people writing the posts might never have to face the consequences of their words. 

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