Here’s a friendly reminder to teens using the Yik Yak app for posting messages that could get them in trouble if they were posted on Facebook, Instagram or on any account associated with their real name: Yik Yak is not on your team.
Yik Yak is a location-based, anonymous social media platform. The reason, in our opinion, that Yik Yak has thrived whereas a similar app, Secret, was forced to shut down is precisely that it is based on location. That is key because it serves as a local virtual bulletin board for colleges, as it was intended, and high schools, where according to the founders it was not meant to thrive.
The fact that Yik Yak is anonymous and popular at schools has led to some serious problems for students, among which is a Texas teen named Christopher Bolanos-Garza who is being held on $8,000 bail for a Yik Yak threat posted at Texas A&M University on Tuesday.
What happened next is becoming all too common. Students who saw the threat reported it to the campus police, who then contacted Yik Yak for the anonymous poster’s identity. Yik Yak did cooperate, then offered the following rationale for their actions:
“Yik Yak cooperates with law enforcement and works alongside local authorities to help with investigations. We may provide information without a subpoena, warrant or court order when a post poses a risk of imminent harm.”
Bollanos-Garza was questioned and arrested within hours of posting the threat. Yik Yak does not require a warrant or subpoena – if there is a credible threat, they willing remove the veil of anonymity as quickly as they can.
Anonymous threats on Yik Yak have been a problem since the app launched, as have cases of cyberbullying, racist and homophobic slurs and teacher bashing. It has only gotten worse after the recent college shooting in Oregon was linked to a post on another anonymous site, 4chan. Rumor has it that the pranksters on 4chan have been urging other users to make threatening posts on Yik Yak.
The message here is simple: Don’t make threatening posts online, even if you’re joking and the post is anonymous. It is ridiculously easy for you to get caught. And it’s not funny.
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