Yik Yak and Anonymity

“With anonymity comes a lot of responsibility, and college kids have the maturity that it takes to handle those responsibilities,” Buffington said. – Yik Yak chat app stirring up trouble in high schools

Has Yik Yak appeared on your campus yet? Students on campus might be buzzing about this new app, which I have heard described as an anonymous Twitter. Posts are categorized by location and school and not tied to any user or identity. Some claim that anonymous apps are growing in popularity because people are looking “for more fun, less accountability and more privacy online”. Yik Yak provides an anonymous avenue but at the same time is a new tool that bullies can use.

Yik Yak Screenshot

Honestly, I logged on to Yik Yak to find an example for this post and there was not much I wanted to share as an example. A lot of the posts in my area are racist, sexist, or R-rated. Students are using the app to anonymously share information (true or false) about everything from schoolwork to partying to their sex life. They also use it to target other people or organizations. College students do not have the maturity to handle anonymous apps like Buffington said, so what should we do about it?

Yik Yak does not cause or create bullying. Bullying exists (unfortunately) and some have turned to Yik Yak to spread their hateful messages. How do we address bullying on campus and on apps like Yik Yak? Student leaders should encourage positive uses of social media sites. Do not log on to Yik Yak if the content is upsetting, and use your role as a leader or higher education professional to educate others about the negative impacts of bullying behavior, anonymous or not. Yes, anonymous social networks are scary. But we need to work together to address the behavior, not the app.

What do you think of apps like Yik Yak? Do college students have the maturity to handle anonymity as Buffington said in the article linked at the top? Anonymous communication tools are not going away, so let’s address bullying behavior instead of trying to get rid of the app.

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