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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