Yik Yak, a new smart phone app that allows people to connect through anonymous, location-based posts, is creating havoc on campuses across the country. Aimed at college students, but filtering down to high schools, the app charges users $.99, to share with 1,000 people, 2,500 for $1.99, and 10,000 for $5. But, the cost seems no bar to the anonymous cyberbullying and false accusations flying around on the app. Recently, the spreading of false rumors about possible shooting on campuses in Mobile, AL broadcast on Yik Yak, for example, have led to student arrests.
So far, the company has responded with apologies and two ways to report inappropriate content. One way is to have two people select the comment and click the “report inappropriate” button. The second way is to take a screen shot of the comment and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org for immediate removal. They also claim that they are working on technical solutions to prevent app abuse by high schoolers, but parents need to understand NOW what the app is, what it does, and the kind of damage its anonymous nature breeds, and discuss the consequences of using these kinds of apps with their children. The same goes for Whisper and Secret – two other apps with text comments that self-destruct after they are read – all are great weapons for cyberbullies who love their anonymity. Take a look at this guide to what you need to know about Yik Yak. Remind kids to think before they dis or vent on any app – even when it is supposed to be anonymous – and never rely on any app to keep their secrets forever.