Students discuss pros and cons of Yik Yak
Aaron Berkowitz – General Assignment Reporter
The mobile application, Yik Yak, has been a major topic of discussion at SCSU as of lately because of the multiple cases of cyber bullying that have been reported and tied to the anonymity the app allows its users to have while posting.
Lead Community Developer at Yik Yak, Cameron Mullen said his team takes each cyber bullying case very seriously. The company has gone as far as blocking almost every high school and middle school in the entire country to prevent further bullying cases from occurring.
“We are constantly trying to reduce these kinds of cases to the goal of zero,” said Mullen. “We have filters running so whenever there are words associated with bullying, racism, or inappropriate usage of ‘Yak’ it signals a red flag. We have a full moderation team, 24/7 that is looking for these kinds of posts and dealing with it. They can delete the post, suspend the user, or block the user forever.”
Students like Shae Barone, a sophomore at SCSU, are not confident in the company’s ability to sufficiently monitor the app because of how tough it is to catch every negative thing that makes its way onto the live feed.
“I think the app should be deleted because there is no point in it,” said Barone. “It gives bullies a platform to say whatever they want anonymously and not get in trouble for it because there’s no way to prove they said it.”
Kally Donlan, freshman education major, said she had originally supported the app, but changed her mind when she noticed a popular trend of “nasty hurtful things” being said on her live feed.
“It got old fast,” said Donlan. “It’s not what it used to be when it first started. The app should just be taken down because there are more negative things coming from it than positive. I feel like there’s always going to be an app like this going around, they just come and go.”
Mullen said the app provides its users with a lot of responsibility and expects the power of the users being able to monitor one another to be used more efficiently as the app’s community grows.
“Yik Yak is cool because you don’t just connect with your existing social circle,” said Mullen. “The anonymity and privacy lets you talk about things that you may not always talk about normally. There might be something going on in your life that you don’t want to mention on Twitter or Facebook because you’re friends with your parents or professor, but on Yik Yak you can discuss these more sensitive topics.”
The open discussion of more delicate topics allows some unwanted negativity from the anonymous users and can get out of hand.
Assistant Director of Judicial Affairs, Jenna Retort said in an effort to raise awareness of the repercussions of what students post online, her office has teamed up with student groups such as the Greek Life Council, Residence Hall Association, and Student Government.
“When the things we say aren’t entwined with who we are or we post things anonymously we don’t see how they impact other people,” said Retort. “That’s where the real danger lies. You have no way of knowing what message will push someone over the edge or to the extreme where they hurt themselves.”
There has been progress made but there is more work to be done, said Retort.
“We still see the discouraging things flooding the live feed but we have begun to see more responses saying that its not what we want to see anymore as well,” said Retort. “We’re also starting to see students write positive things too about their community members with the hashtag #IApproveThisMessage.”
Retort mentioned the fact that students are not forced into downloading the app and therefor need to be that much more careful and responsible with what they post.
Mullen said there will always be critics, but Yik Yak’s sole purpose is to help build communities that help support each other.
“When Snapchat came out they said it was only for ‘sexting’ and sending naked pictures,” said Mullen. “When Instagram came out they said it’s only an app to take pictures of your lunch and no one cares about that. Some people will always feel that way, but we are still developing and want to hear more feedback from our users.”