We didn’t expect to see this coming. Techcrunch broke a Yik Yak story yesterday which asserts that the app has built a system that automatically downvotes posts that mention one of its competitors. From the article:
“The anonymous app has quietly built a system that downvotes any mentions of several other apps for college kids including Fade, Sneek, and Unseen until no one can see them. By adding one downvote per minute, Yik Yak makes it look like other anonymous users dislike these posts. But tests in isolation demonstrate that it’s Yik Yak itself suppressing its competitors. And once a post gets five downvotes, it becomes completely invisible.”
We’ve had plenty to say about Yik Yak but this is out of left field. The company apparently claims that the automated system is a kind of spam filter. We doubt that, but even if it is, it is effectively erasing user posts.
Yik Yak knows enough about you to make it dangerous – they know your IP address and therefore by extension your location, and theoretically they could post for you. It is well known that they are quick to report users to the police when a valid official request is made. It would be nice to trust them to be completely above board and put users first but…
Yik Yak is rapidly becoming a bigger, more powerful company. Twitter or someone else will probably acquire them this year. I don’t think it makes sense for them to be taking liberties with users’ trust at this point. It’s not right.
If your teen is using Yik Yak, not only do you have to trust him to not post anything stupid, or worse, illegal, you have to trust Yik Yak not to mess with his account. This news shouldn’t make you feel any better.
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