The newest form of social media, a phone application called “Yik Yak,” has occupied the screens of many Keene State College students this fall semester.
MassLive.com writer Patrick Johnson describes it as “the online equivalent of graffiti found in a bathroom stall.”
Users do not have to create a username or password. The app is relatively anonymous other than the user’s cell phone number. The forum works within a mile-and-a-half geographical radius according to the location of your cellular device and acts as a forum for just about anything and everything.
When asked if she knew the intent of the creators of the application, Carly Gravallese, a sophomore at Keene State, mentioned a couple of different uses.
“Well, it’s really used for gossip on campus. You can read about what people are wearing, where the parties will be at that night and drama within different groups throughout Keene. I’m sure that wasn’t exactly the purpose of the app, though,” Gravallese said.
On their website, yikyakapp.com, creators Brooks Buffington and Tyler Droll stated that their goal regarding Yik Yak was to “Create an open forum for mobile users to easily communicate, or Yak with one another, providing a virtual bulletin board of sorts for community engagement within a specific location.”
Buffington and Droll give an example on their website of the application being utilized the way it was intended—students at a southern university have recently used Yik Yak in order to raise money for one of their fellow students suffering from cancer and undergoing chemotherapy.
The creators explained on their website that, “While other local users did not personally know this student, Yik Yak created the forum for increased awareness and support among like-minded peers.”
Buffington and Droll also stressed the age-appropriate nature of the app. They said it refuses to function near any primary or secondary school systems.
Chris Pellati, a senior at KSC, explained that he did not completely agree with the claim.
“I don’t think Yik Yak is always a positive thing. It’s definitely entertaining, but I see people being bullied through it all the time,” Pellati said.
“There are always terrible things written about both girls and guys on campus, whether it’s rumors that people hear about them or something they’re wearing that day … It can’t feel too good to see your name on there,” Pellati said.
MassLive.com writer Johnson listed just a few of many examples of high schools and colleges that have already experienced problems with the five-month-old app.
Ludlow High School, Holyoke Community College, Indiana State University and the University of Southern Mississippi have all prompted lock-downs in response to various threats and drug deals that have taken place on their Yik Yak feeds.
Yik Yak has been banned as well by a number of school districts in Texas, Illinois and other areas of the country because of the bullying taking place on their forums.
According to Johnson, students were being targeted and humiliated for aspects such as social status, weight and derogatory remarks.
A junior at KSC, Hanna Desouza, explained how one of her close friends was personally victimized on Yik Yak.
“One of my best friends was targeted by over ten different people because of a frivolous drunk mistake. It was sad to see because she was being humiliated and couldn’t do anything about it. Everyone’s anonymous so she couldn’t even confront the people who were talking about her,” DeSouza said.
Desouza went on to explain how she believes Yik Yak “shouldn’t be taken too seriously by the people reading.”
Gravallese agreed, “I’ve never read anything about me particularly, but I still don’t believe the things I read about other people. I hope others don’t make that unfortunate mistake.”
Although the intention of creators Buffington and Droll for their new app may have been beneficial for members of society as a whole, it seems to the students of Keene State College that their mission has been skewed.
Pellati stated that, “College students may just not be mature enough to use the app for its intended purpose.”
Aryanah Haydu can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org