Yik Yak ditches anonymous feature, students react


Image: Thais Ackerman

Yik Yak users are going to have to start making usernames to share thoughts on the app.

Vanessa Alva, Contributing Writer

To many, social networks are primarily used to keep in touch with loved ones. Yik Yak, an app that lets users post anonymous discussion threads with others in their local area, inverted that concept. However, the app has now switched gears and is no longer completely anonymous.

The app’s 5-mile radius makes it easier for college students to communicate with each other.

“I mainly use it to see what kind of fun stuff is going on, what classes are being let out early, see if anything exciting is going on like that fire at Panda [Express] the other day,” said junior Donald Harper. “I usually get a couple of laughs. People post some funny things on there.”

The app recently implemented usernames on the basis that it would let users become more connected to each other. These usernames will show up whenever a user makes a post or comment. Some do not think this will affect the way they use the app.

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“I don’t think it matters at all because you can make the usernames anything you want,” said sophomore Deena Patel.

When the app was launched in 2013, it was completely anonymous. Prior to the new update, the app had users choose an icon that would distinguish them from other users.

“I don’t really like [the update] mainly because of other friends who may know your profile. It makes it so you have to watch what you say and you can’t be so open with the randomness that it used to be,” said sophomore Jonathan Jones.

Some Yik Yak users think the app traffic has changed with the new settings.

“I noticed there’s a lot less happening on the app than what it used to be. It used to be a lot more fun and outgoing, now it’s more restricted,” Jones said.

However, others think Yik Yak’s changes are positive.

“The overall vibe is happier, in my opinion. I think the implementation of permanent handles gives everyone a better sense of who’s around them,” Mercer’s Yik Yak representative Avery Everling said. “If anything, I would say users feel more comfortable because if users who aren’t using the app in the right way will be easier to identify.”

Others think the changes will reduce bullying.

“I think it’s a big deal because I’ve heard stories of bullying on the app so I think it’s a big step forward,” said freshman Paula Drake.

Along with the new privacy settings, the app has changed how users communicate with other nearby users. They also added a feed where users can see the statuses of nearby users and directly message them. The app was inspired by Twitter and Snapchat to allow users to create statuses that are 18-characters long and only lasts 24 hours.

“With profiles and new features like ‘#Now’ and ‘Local Yakkers,’ we’re making it easier than ever for you to connect with others in your community, discover more about what makes the people around you unique and develop closer connections,” said Yik Yak communications associate Olivia Boger in an email.

Yik Yak hopes the new changes will make college communities closer.

“We recognize that not everyone may welcome this change and that change in any format can take some time for users to get used to, but we’re excited to help our users foster even stronger communities and valuable connections,” Boger said.