Two “anonymous” apps, Secret and Yik Yak, launched in October 2013. We put the word “anonymous” in quotes, because depending on the circumstances, neither are really anonymous.
Once each stated becoming popular, they both came under fire for being in varying degrees sinister, but from different camps. Secret took heat from the Silicon Valley crowd, who have been scandalized by exposed trade secrets and the like.
Yik Yak continues under a barrage of much deserved criticism from schools, the media and parents for school threats of violence, cyberbullying, teacher bashing and underage tales of drugs and alcohol.
Yik Yak’s popularity has never been greater, particularly with teens, despite efforts by the company to shut the app down at high and middle schools. Secret, on the other hand, relaunched with a new design and use case last week after failing to maintain its early momentum.
Is there a reason why one app is soaring while the other tries to find its mojo, despite both having raised large piles of money from investors? We think so, and we think the reason is directly related to the reason why Yik Yak is the most negatively impactful app for teens at the moment.
The difference is simple – with Yik Yak, your audience is the people within X miles of you, regardless of whether you know them personally. In fact, even of you do know them personally, you will be no more or less connected to them than you are to complete strangers in your area. With Secret, your audience is determined by the friends (and friends of friends) in your phone’s address book who also use Secret.
If Yik Yak, Secret and the like were being used mainly for harmless fun, made a little more edgy by the fact that you don’t really know who is doing the posting, a network like Secret’s that is connected to your real contacts would be more valuable. We would argue that many, many teens who are using Yik Yak for nefarious purposes want to be as distanced as possible from their true identity and their real friends – because they’re up to no good.
The age restriction on Yik Yak is 17+, but most high schoolers ignore the age limit. We are strongly of the opinion that Yik Yak is a bad idea for high school and middle school students. Parents should guide behavior accordingly.
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