Are you yakking? New social app causes buzz across campus

Photo: Heather Yeomans

Stefany Bornman

The latest social media trend on the Georgia Southern University campus allows users to anonymously post comments to a live feed visible to others in the same geographic region.

Yik Yak, a free smartphone application, uses location services to create a feed of the top 500 posts within a five-mile radius. Users can post anything to a message board under an anonymous or false name.

“People who hide behind anonymous post, I consider them cowardly people. The Internet has created a way that they are not responsible for what they say,” Eric Landers, co-director of National Youth at Risk of GSU, said.

The range of the Statesboro area’s live feed includes posts from crude humor, to specifically naming students and organizations, suggestive sexual content, drug and alcohol abuse and violence.

There are no limitations to the content posted by users. The lack of restriction creates the ability to post vulgar comments.

“The anonymity of the internet has already caused so many kids to feel attacked and it has basically enabled many kids to do things that they would not do if their name was attached to it,” Landers said.

According to Gary Gawel, director of diversity services, a student can file a sexual harassment complaint based off what happens online and applies to all types of social media.

The only warning the application cautions is age-restricted material. Before download the application prompts users to validate they are 17 years old or older due to explicit content.

“Upvote what’s good and downvote what’s not,” as stated in the description found on the App Store. The posts, or Yaks, become popular as users “upvote” and comment on them.

Posts can also be deleted when two users check the content as inappropriate, or “downvote” the post. The developers of Yik Yak also allow users to screenshot inappropriate content and email it their headquarters to be removed.

Yaks such as “If this gets 100 likes, I’ll swim in lake Hendy tomorrow at 2:20 in between classes. If not, my roommate owes me $1/like under 100. Game on” posted 2 weeks ago and received 129 upvotes.

“It’s fun to read but at the same time it’s not fun if you end up on there,” Aleana Dall’Acqua, senior interior design major, said.

Developed by two Furman University students, Tyler Droll and Brooks Buffington, and released three months ago, Yik Yak has gained over 100,000 active users and over 15,000 new posts go live each day.

Kristen Fisher, senior marketing major said, “The app is entertaining but can be brutal at times.”