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Yik Yak provides a fun but possibly harmful platform for student intercations

An Ohio Wesleyan student faces anonymous harassment from peers via the controversial social media platform Yik Yak.

The app is popular among college students. Users can anonymously post comments, images, and even polls to the school’s community on the app. They can also up-vote or down-vote others’ posts.

The feed for OWU’s community typically consists of weather forecasts, pictures of hamsters, students looking for hookups, and people complaining about Smith’s food or the current parking situation. But the platform has also been used to bully and harass other students without consequence.

One OWU freshman was being mocked on Yik Yak after attending an on-campus event. She fears the backlash that could come with revealing her name and specific details, but another student quoted something she said to her friend during the event and the original poster as well as other commenters proceeded to make fun of it.

She believes those people would never make fun of her to her face.

“They had the opportunity to. It’s only behind a screen that they feel confident enough to post,” she says, “Being anonymous does not make it okay to treat someone with lack of kindness.”

After reading the post, she decided to delete the app.

That student's experience is not out of the ordinary on Yik Yak.

According to Business Insider, “The app was shut down in April 2017 after a decrease in user engagement and growing criticism around the use of its platform for rampant cyberbullying.”

Yik Yak returned four years later in 2021 and created community guidelines in attempts to address the issues in the original app.

These guidelines include, “You may not post a community member’s personal information, including names, nicknames, and identifying descriptions.” Any posts that do so can be reported and taken down.

The poster was still able to make fun of their fellow students while following those community guidelines.

Not every OWU student’s experience on the app involves bullying or harassment.

An anonymous sophomore describes his experience on Yik Yak saying, “I post things that I think are funny and generally get positive responses.”

Some students use the app the way it was designed to function, as a platform for social interactions and entertainment.

Another freshman, Matthew Higgins, observed, “Yik Yak provides a fun, but dangerous escape. I’ve seen plenty of people laugh at it and I’ve seen just as many people hurt by it.”

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