If you have kids or grandkids in high school or college, chances are they’ve heard of this mobile app. Yik Yak allows users to post anonymous statuses and search by location — so you’ll see posts from anyone in your area, about a one-and-a-half-mile radius.
Be prepared if you’re going to play around with it — much of the content is NSFW. Here’s a screenshot. I had to work to find one screenshot I could post that I wouldn’t have to pixelate every post.
Now, I’m not a code ninja, nor am I an online security expert, but I don’t trust anything that involves the Internet and claims to be private or anonymous. I’m just that paranoid.
According to Techcrunch, the app is close to closing on $75 million in funding, and is focused on college students. It is reportedly active on 1000 college campuses. Although there are geofencing measures in place to prevent its use on high school and middle school campuses, teens are free to use it anywhere else. Yik Yak carries a 17+ rating on the App Store.
The numbers on the right are upvotes – positive votes. Too many downvotes can get a post deleted. The peek function gives you a look into the posts around a specific campus, which can be anywhere.
Yik Yak is subject to all the usual pitfalls of social networking: bullying, inappropriate images and objectionable or offensive content. Apparently the community polices itself when it comes to defamatory or racist remarks, at least to some extent.
Like all technology, it’s important to keep up and know what’s what. I believe a candid talk with the young people in your life about this app is in order. Now.