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 post 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.
If 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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