Jasmine C. Dobbins
Most of the conversation circling around Yik Yak tends to be negative, due to numerous reports of racism, sexism, death threats and bullying being spread throughout the anonymous app. But the question is, how does this affect millennials as a whole, and more importantly, the students at Towson?
Yik Yak, which was introduced in 2013 by college students Tyler Droll and Brooks Buffington, quickly become known as the “Anonymous Twitter”, having many similarities, but also allowing people who live within a two-mile radius of each other to say whatever is on their mind.
But as expected, this quickly became a problem.
So this immediately caused new features to be put into effect such as, students being able to report if they are offended by a post, and the app being able to identify explicit content being posted and sending a warning message asking the user if they are sure they want their yak to be shared.
But despite the multiple attempts made by the team to prevent inappropriate content from being shared, the abuse continues to be posted daily.
“I see something offensive over the app everyday, but there isn’t much anyone can do about it because it’s a person’s right to say whatever they want to no matter how hateful unfortunately”, Towson sophomore Emily Pyne said.
And according to statistics found in June 2015, Yik Yak consists of the highest amount of millennial users (18-34) out of twenty other social media apps.
But the controversy circling around the app has led to many protests among college students asking to have the app banned from their campuses, and petitions from others to have the app taken down completely.
“People at Towson have been wanting this app to be banned for years I’ve heard, but for some reason it still continues to thrive and cause a lot of problems between students,” Pyne said.
African-American students at Towson recently exposed the racists content shared on the app through Twitter after they protested the protection of black students and workers on campus.
— Bilphena (@GoldWomyn) April 19, 2016
And the negative discussion surrounding the app has also come to the attention of the faculty and staff at Towson.
“I’m not a big fan of social media sites that provide an opportunity to anonymously post whatever an individual feels like posting. This is particularly true when the site is set-up to only include members of a specific community,” Dr. Deb Moriarty, Vice President of Student Affairs said.
Because Dr. Moriarty focuses on the development of students outside of the classroom, she was concerned with the development of Towson as a whole.
“Because this generation has relied on social media as a communication tool, the ability to confront each other, be assertive in stating one’s needs, and working through difficult and uncomfortable issues has been lost,” Dr. Moriarty said.
And she went on to speak of the reason why she doesn’t think Yik Yak belongs on college campuses.
“When I think about the nature and purpose of college I really don’t think this should be a tool used on the campus. I strongly believe that students need to learn how to negotiate difference,” Dr. Moriarty stated.
The only way for this app to take a step in the right direction in regards to preventing bad content from being shared is for people to reevaluate the content they share first.