What Is Yik Yak?

High Schoolers and College Kids Can't Stop Yakking Away on This App

What Is Yik Yak?
Photo © Yik Yak, LLC

Anonymous social apps give people a way to interact and be part of an online community, but only in completely nameless and faceless manner. Yik Yak is just one of the anonymous apps that has really picked up in popularity over the ast year it's been available.

Yik Yak Explained

Yik Yak is basically an anonymous location-based status posting app for your local community, which shows you anonymous posts from people around your geographical area. "Yakkers" are encouraged to post harmless jokes, thoughts, observations or questions and build their herd of yaks as they interact with other yakkers. It is especially popular with students on and around college campuses.

Overall, the idea behind Yik Yak is quite simple, yet it pulls together some of the best features of a lot of other popular social networks and apps. Like Twitter, posts are kept short, to a minimum of just 200 characters. It also uses Tinder-like location matching for yak posts near you, and Reddit-like upvoting and downvoting on individual yaks. 

Using Yik Yak

The app (available for iPhone and Android) first asks your permission to use your location so that it can show you "quality streams of yaks" in your area. You're then shown a stream of short status posts from most recent to oldest, and two tabs at the top of the screen that let you switch between "New" and "Hot."

You can upvote or downvote a yak post by tapping the upward arrow to the right of any post if you like it, or the downward arrow if you don't like it. You can also tap on any individual yak post to view its anonymous replies or send an anonymous reply yourself.

Any yak can be reported by tapping the flag icon in the top right corner of a yak post tab. Yakkers are expected not to bully or target other yakkers, and there's zero-tolerance policy on posting private information.

The menu at the bottom lets you "Peek" some of the featured yak topics or save locations while the "Me" tab gives you a glimpse of your own activity, interactions and settings. On the "Home" tab, pull down to refresh the feed so you can see the most recently posted yaks in your area.

Adding a Yik Yak Handle and Sharing Your Location

Since Yik Yak is all about anonymity, you can't build a profile the way you would on other social networks. There are, however, a couple user information settings you can customize.

Add a handle: When you hit the pen and paper icon in the top right corner of the screen to post a new yak, you can add an optional handle name (not associated with your real name, of course).

Share your location: You can also tap the arrow icon to share your location when you make your post.

Why the Yik Yak Trend?

With so many popular social networking sites and apps these days -- Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vine, Tumblr and others -- it's no wonder that some users find themselves longing for the simpler days, before the Internet was so tightly wound up around our identities with all of our photos and status updates and conversations posted on our profiles for all our friends and followers to see.

There's also a lot of pressure on users to post the right thing on their regular social media profiles, so anonymous apps offer a way for people to get what's off their mind without the worry and anxiety affiliated with being judged, ridiculed or not getting enough likes and comments. When you remain anonymous, that pressure tends to be minimized.

You don't have to be a student to use Yik Yak, but the majority of users are indeed young adults attending college or high school, which is pretty easy to figure out from reading the yaks you see in your stream. Yik Yak even has a yak mascot that tours around school campuses, making it pretty obvious that this is an app that's geared more toward student users.

The Yik Yak Threat Controversy

As with a lot of other anonymous social apps like Whisper and Secret, Yik Yak has already caused some serious trouble at certain schools. Yaks have been posted about bomb threats or plans to shoot up specific school locations, which have led to authorities scrambling to place buildings under lockdown, scheduling classes to be canceled and identifying suspects to face charges.

Some schools are going as far as to try and block Yik Yak on their campuses so students can't access or use  at all. With yakkers feeling a little too free to make unacceptable posts about faculty, colleagues and threats without facing the consequences of their actions, it's clear that the team at Yik Yak has their work cut out for them in terms of working to prevent it.

Are you a fan of simple location-based apps? Then check out these 10 Tinder-like apps that match you up to everything from adoptable dogs to new job opportunities!