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.
Why 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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