U. of Florida Brings News to Yik Yak

We have been pretty vocal about the anonymous, location based Yik Yak app. According to the app’s creators, it is intended for college student but kids as young as middle school have been using it for cyberbullying, school threats, brags about illegal activity and teacher bashing. Many of the ways the app has been used since day one have been negative.

yik-yak-logoRecently, though, we’ve been seeing more positive use cases. Last month we wrote about Yik Yak users coming to the support of a peer who posted about feeling suicidal. Earlier this year we covered a missed connection story where the Yik Yak community helped out a user with a potential love interest.

This week, we came across a story out of the University of Florida, where journalism students are using Yik Yak to curate and share local news stories.

From an interview with Randy Bennett, director of entrepreneurship and partnerships at the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications at the website journalism.co:

“It’s really the first time that someone’s really tried to produce an ongoing stream of local information. So we’re learning what people are doing and how they’ll react to it. We wanted to see what the process was like sending out those Yaks, that way we could gauge which content was the most interesting and engaging.”

This could work well for the school’s community, and the student journalists. By way of comparison, something like this already exists. The University of Florida subreddit (reddit.com/r/UFL) is a pretty lively community with over 2700 subscribers. And similar to Reddit, Yik Yak allows users to upvote or downvote posts based on their relevance, humor or interest.

While many Yik Yak users are either wasting time or up to no good, it is important to note that no social platform is all bad. Some making being bad easier, as is the case with Yik Yak’s structure – tight geographic focus and anonymity, but it is still not all bad. If it succeeds in becoming a source for local news and general interest content, the total Yik Yak landscape could become much more positive on balance.



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