Opinion: What’s up with Yik Yak?

Alyssa Ochss

Remember the app Yik Yak? It was featured as a section in The Oakland Post in around 2015 to 2016 when I was a freshman. However, as I checked the newspaper one day, I realized the section that had brought enjoyment to my day had vanished.

I checked the next week, and the Yaks weren’t there either. Naturally, I wondered what had happened to the section, but I quickly forgot about it.

That is until nowwhen I did a little bit of research of my own.

After a little over a year, the company posted on its Twitter with a simple word of greeting and an emoji. This one tweet led to a slew of replies asking what year it is, and many people just said no altogether.

The app, according to Forbes, shut down in 2017 and only sold about $1 million dollars of “intellectual property,” a stark contrast to the $400 million it was previously valued at.

So, what went wrong?

According to The New York Times, like a significant amount of social media apps, Yik Yak started to become infested with discrimination, harassment, and threats of sexual assault and other forms of bodily harm. This cyber bullying left some universities, such as University of Mary Washington, in hot water since they weren’t taking the proper measures to protect their students from the harassment.

According to the Forbes article, the downfall of Yik Yak could also be contributed to the consumers becoming disinterested “when the novelty wears off.” This spiraling of events led to terminations—60 percent of the staff was fired—and the eventual end of the app.

The tweet Yik Yak sent out, however, has sparked hope for a new version of the app to be released. If Yik Yak does try to reinvent, I don’t think the solution to this string of cyber bullying will be that easy to fix.

This app led to serious trouble with universities and students, and it’s hard to moderate everything every single user is doing with the app. The cyber bullying is somewhat unpreventable by the app themselves.

Other companies, such as YouTube and Tumblr, have tried to moderate unsuitable content in the past. These systems they use are still somewhat flawed since the moderating device is still too sensitive and guests still find another way around the moderating.

Yik Yak would have to come up with its own way of moderating content to prevent cases of cyber bullying and threats against its users. However, as shown with both YouTube and Tumblr, it seems controversy is somewhat unavoidable when it comes to social media. It would be interesting to see if Yik Yak would go a different route from the social media sites before it, if it ever gets started again.

The last tweet from the company’s Twitter, as of this article’s publication, is from Feb. 19, so Yik Yak is still active since the initial tweet.

Maybe if the app gets all of its ducks in a row, it will be able to reopen and make it safer for its users, to the best of its ability.

Here’s to hoping.