Short of unplugging their servers, it appears that banning Yik Yak on any given campus is more difficult that it might appear.
Yik Yak, the anonymous, location-based social network, has been home to many problems, including cyberbullying, teacher bashing, bomb and other threats, party crashing, and blatant talk of illegal activity. Users do have the option to remain fully anonymous – unless the police get involved – and they do in may cases.
In February, students at Illinois College appealed to the school administration to block Yik Yak, principally because of a number of racially charged posts. The school President Barbara Farley agreed, and use of Yik Yak was recently banned on the school’s wireless network. The problem is that students were still able to access Yik Yak via their phones’ data plan, and students did just that, letting other users how they felt about the ban (pictured at right, from The Chronicle of Higher Education).
Blocking Yik Yak has been a hot topic of late. Amid a rash of bad behavior by high school users in 2014, Yik Yak voluntarily blocked its app at over 85% of the high schools in the country (or at least that was their claim at the time). We tested the block ourselves, and found schools where it was blocked, and schools where it was operational a mere few feet from the front door.
Blocking Yik Yak at a college is a futile exercise. Sure, school admins can block it from the schools wireless network as Illinois College did, but students are still free to use it. Yik Yak is not going to voluntarily block the app at colleges, since college students are its core focus. It might actually make the problem worse.
We aren’t fans of Yik Yak, but will be quick to admit that if bad actors are unable to use Yik Yak, there are plenty of other social networks and messaging apps that they can use. The best thing that parents can do is make sure that their own kids are using technology responsibly.
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