Yik Yak No Longer Anonymous

Back in March, we wrote a post titled “Yik Yak Is No Longer Fully Anonymous”. In it, we described how Yik Yak, which was formerly a fully anonymous, location based message board, was allowing users the option of choosing a handle. Handles could be your real name or whatever screen name you chose.

This week, bigger changes are afoot. As of today, Yik Yak users are required to choose a handle, their handle will be visible each time they post, and other users are shown a (partial?) list of the Yakkers around them when they’re logged in.

Yik Yak logoWhy the change?

Yik Yak has had more than its share of problems and bad behavior in the past, from cyberbullying to teacher bashing to users looking for drugs and alcohol hookups. It makes some sense that attaching an identity to user posts may cut down on some of the bad behavior.

There is also the element of discovery. If users see another Yakker in their area who posts content in line with their interests, they may make a connection.

Will handles eliminate all the bad behavior? Almost certainly not. Users can easily change their handle (I just did). Users can establish a second account for their hijinks. It looks to us like Yik Yak is becoming a location based Twitter knockoff, which incidentally has been notoriously difficult to manage and grow, and has huge problems with trolls and abuse.

Incidentally, on the topic of handles, back in March when we reviewed the original change, I changed my handle to my real name, assuming that I’d never use it or be identified as a Yik Yak user. Today I changed it to a nonsense handle that is in no way associated with me. If your teen also changed to his real name and wishes to post pseudonymously, he should do the same.

This highlights another issue with forums that allow users to post anonymously. They can, and do, change the rules, and those posts you thought were anonymous could become part of your permanent digital footprint. (Maybe not in this case exactly, but you get the point).

Yik Yak began as a forum to post nonsense, jokes and questions for those around you. Sometimes the trolls get the upper hand. We don’t expect that to change much.

 

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Yik Yak “Handles” Are Already Backfiring

A Hamilton College junior is in Florida for Spring Break, and got a big, negative surprise this week. It turns out that while she is away, someone is impersonating her on Yik Yak.

Yik Yak logoIf you’re not familiar with Yik Yak, it’s an until-recently anonymous, location based social network that is very popular in colleges and high schools. Last week, Yik Yak announced that it has introduced “handles” – optional user names that users can assign for themselves. Your handle can be your real name, or anything else, and even if you choose a handle you can continue to post anonymously.

While a network allowing some users to choose a user name may be better than it staying fully anonymous, this update appears to be backfiring already.

The Hamilton College student’s name is Adelaide Fuller, and while she’s off campus, another user has adopted the handle “AddyFuller”. AddyFuller has been posting sexual messages on Yik Yak and causing a great deal of embarrassment for Ms. Fuller, as other students assume it is her posting.

According to an article at Tech Insider, Yik Yak representatives say they will investigate reported cases of impersonation, but as of now that account and the posts are still up on Yik Yak, and visible to the students of Hamilton College.

Yik Yak has been troublesome almost from day one. Cyberbullying and teacher bashing routinely go unchecked. They are going to need to step up their reporting system, their response times and their efficacy in weeding out the bad actors.

There is a lot of work to do here. If you’re a parent, the best idea is to keep your teens off Yik Yak altogether.

 

 

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Yik Yak Is No Longer Fully Anonymous

There is big news out of location-based, formerly fully anonymous app Yik Yak this week – the company has announced that posts and users are no longer fully anonymous. Yik Yak spelled out the changes in a blog yik-yak-logopost titled Introducing Handles!

After downloading the app update this week, users are prompted to create a “handle”, or user name. Handles can be your real name of something made up – it’s up to you.

To be clear, anonymous posting is still allowed:

  • Creating a handle is totally optional
  • Users who have selected a handle can choose, for each post they make, to do so anonymously or using their handle

Handles are being created on a first come, first served basis, so if you’ve got a unique name or you’re worried about someone impersonating you (this is a real risk), you should secure your real name handle now.

We’ve written a number of times that Yik Yak is an app frequently used for cyberbullying, school threats, teacher bashing, party crashing and a lot of other bad behavior. While Yik Yak is quick to cooperate with the police when required, they have done little to stem the bad behavior. This change will do little to address that, in our opinion.

Yik Yak handles pollIf you’re a young Yik Yak user who is up to no good, in all likelihood you will not select a handle that identifies you at all, and if you do you’ll continue to post anonymously. As you can see from the poll at right (from this article at Engadget), there may be little demand for real name posting.

Our message to parents:

  • Know which apps your child is using
  • Talk to them about how they are using them
  • Be on the alert for anonymous apps, as anonymity tends to embolden kids to acting inappropriately

Have a different opinion? Let us know in the comments below.

 

 

 

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