A social media platform with no username? No login process? And no passwords to remember?
What would you say if there was a way to anonymously peak into the minds of those around you?
That’s where Yik Yak comes in. Yik Yak is the Atlanta-based startup app created one year ago that provides access, anonymously, to local gossip and the personal thoughts of users in a specific region.
Signing up is simple, as the only step in the registration process is providing the app access to your location services. There is no need to create a username or provide any personal information, as is required when registering for Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
When the app opens up, you are immediately shown the newest yaks, similar to “Tweets, within a 1.5 mile radius from your current location on your “Home” tab, on the bottom of your screen. With only 200 characters allotted, ”yaks” must be concise and cleverly worded. Yik Yak, often referred to as the “anonymous gossip app”, has become a place to share private thoughts and jokes that are often kept to oneself.
Common topics include school pride, bathroom behavior, anonymous complements, and sarcastic thoughts one might mutter to oneself. The key to success on Yik Yak is in the stark honesty and clever wording of its users’ posts:
“That awkward moment when you’re in the bathroom stall and you make eye contact with the person checking to see if the stall is empty.”
“The first five days after the weekend are the hardest.”
“Shout out to the girl in the red sweater on the library steps. Lookin real good.”
“Should be studying but I find myself checking Yak”
Now what’s to prevent this app from getting out of hand? As a tool that allows you to both say and view things anonymously, will Yik Yak become another outlet for hate, cyber bullying, and exposing personal information? Hopefully this will not be the case, as Yik Yak is monitored by its users according to the app’s five rules:
1. You do not bully or specifically target other yakkers
2. You DO NOT bully or specifically target other yakkers
3. Zero-tolerance policy on posting people’s private information.
4. Don’t clutter people’s feeds with useless or offensive yaks. If you see a useless or offensive yak, make sure to do your part by downvoting or reporting it.
5. If your yaks continue to be reported, you will be suspended.
Other key features include the ability to include your yaks in specific streams others can follow by tagging them as part of a specific topic or group such as “Columbia University,” “Spring Break,” or “Facebook sucks.”4 These feeds allow you to access “yaks” anywhere in the world. You can choose to follow specific feeds which will appear in the “peek” tab on the bottom of your screen. You can also reply to yaks just as you can to tweets on Twitter. These replies, as well as your yaks and other notifications will appear in your “me.”
One final feature unique to Yik Yak is that everyone is given a score on the top left corner of their account. This score, called your “Yakarma,” is similar to a Klout score but encompasses only Yik Yak usage. Like Klout, a higher score is desirable and provides an indication as to how active you are on the app.. Unlike other social media platforms, Yak does not count followers, but rather uses this score to rate users. All users start with 100 points. Anytime one “upvotes” or “downvotes” (“likes” or “dislikes”) a yak, you receive 1 point. Anytime anyone “upvotes” your post you also receive 1 point. In order to provide incentive to post often, you receive 2 points every time you post a yak.
This multimillion-dollar app has thus far been targeted to high schools and colleges, but could it be expanded to uses in personal and brand marketing? We are looking forward to seeing where this growing company takes this clever application.