Yik Yak

(i)

 

Gossipy, crass anonymous app lets you message nearby users.

What parents need to know

Ease of play

Very easy to use. The simple user interface includes choices to post brief Twitter-like messages (known as "yaks") or photos to 100 or more people in a local area. Users then read and rate other users' messages if they like them with an "upvote" or disapprove them with a "downvote." There's also an option to create a temporary, anonymous "handle" (name) to be viewed with a message.

Violence

Anonymous threats posted against schools and individuals have been reported. Although Yik Yak's legal terms prohibit content that is threatening, harassing, hate-oriented, harmful, racist, or illegal, the app's developers also make it clear that users' posts are not monitored, and Yik Yak takes no responsibility for content. Users can tap a "report" to flag questionable content. If a user's "yaks" continue to be reported, that user will be "warned and then suspended," according to information on the app.

Sex

Sexual content and sexually suggestive messages are prevalent. Sexually derogatory words such as "slut," "whore," "bitch," and "ho" are used, as are posts with descriptors that could potentially identify the person being targeted. Words such as "f--k" and "p---y" appear in some posts. Although Yik Yak's legal terms prohibit content that is obscene, harassing, hate-oriented, offensive, defamatory, and illegal, the app's developers make it clear that users' posts are not monitored, and Yik Yak takes no responsibility for user content. Photos must follow the same rules and are moderated at the time of this review.

Language

Widespread profanity. Yik Yak's legal terms indicate that users "may encounter content that may be deemed objectionable, obscene, or in poor taste" and "may or may not be identified as having explicit language." The app's terms state that user content is subject to the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and the federal Communications Decency Act, and, therefore, the developer is not responsible for user-generated content.

Consumerism

In-app purchases ($0.99 to $4.99) are required to send yaks to more than 500 users, and that option appears with each yak.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Users post information about parties and bars. Content related to drinking, drugs, and smoking. Although Yik Yak's legal terms prohibit content about anything illegal, the app's developers also make it clear that users' posts are not monitored, and Yik Yak takes no responsibility for user content.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Yik Yak is a free, local social-networking app and website that lets users post "anything and everything" anonymously, including a lot of explicit content that's clearly not for kids.Yik Yak users post brief, Twitter-like comments and photos, which are distributed to any 500 people using Yik Yak closest to them geographically (or more than 500 people, with in-app purchase).Yik Yak works via GPS to identify where the user is each time he or she opens the app and posts messages (called "yaks") to other nearby users. People read and "upvote" or "downvote" other people's posts to rate them. Message content ranges from simple questions ("Where are all the spring breakers?"), personal opinions, and local information to negative messages aimed at specific people, sexually explicit messages, and posts about seeking or using drugs and alcohol. In 2015, the app began allowing photo messages as well. Unless the user's location is toggled off for each post, it can be seen by others. According to Yik Yak's terms, users must be at least 17, although there's no age verification on the app itself (there's an initial content warning on the iTunes App Store that requires users to confirm they're 17 by tapping OK; there's no verification or warning on Android devices). Bottom line: Yik Yak is not appropriate for kids.

What's it about?

Simply download the app and your device's GPS coordinates to use YIK YAK, which will identify the 500 Yik Yak users closest to you to blast your "yaks." Tap on the message icon to post a yak of 200 characters or less or a photo. As of 2015, photos can't contain faces in an effort to contain potential bullying. Toggle to turn off your location or allow it to appear with the yak. Read other users' yaks, and tap the up or down arrows to "upvote" or "downvote" them. Other options include viewing your "Top Yaks," adding a handle to a yak, and more. (This review is based on an iOS device. The app looks and functions slightly differently on Android devices.)

Is it any good?

QUALITY

Yik Yak's just yucky. It's a gossipy, lewd, crass online environment in which anything goes and users say anything about anybody. Because some kids under the app's required age of 17 are using Yik Yak (and because there have been instances of users posting threats of violence against schools, which have prompted schools to ban the app or even sometimes close), access to Yik Yak reportedly has been blocked at some schools so messages can't be posted or received in or near that school.

Though Yik Yak  may have been created as a way for college kids to locate the nearest local parties, bar deals, and other campus happenings, it's used by some to publicize their latest sexual escapades, complain about people by name, and lambaste teachers for too much homework. This app is not for anyone under 17 -- or anyone over 17 who cares about meaningful, respectful social networking. For parents, the most important fact is that much of the content here is not suitable for kids and may be harmful in cases of cyberbullying, explicit sexual content, unintended location sharing, and exposure to explicit information about drugs and alcohol. The addition of photo messaging in 2015 may increase opportunities to share iffy content, though no faces are allowed in pictures and the developers state that pictures will be moderated. Ultimately, this app is not for kids.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about Yik Yak's focus on anonymous posts, which raises concerns about using it to cyberbully others. Talk with your kid about how to prevent cyberbullying and read Common Sense Media's Parents' Top 10 Cyberbullying Questions.

  • Discuss with your kid why some apps such as this one have age restrictions and why it's important to honor them. Talking about why this app isn't appropriate for kids also may present a good opportunity to review Internet Safety: Rules of the Road for Kids.

  • No doubt about it: It's difficult to keep track of which social-networking apps are the latest, most popular ones with teens. It can help to use resources such as Common Sense Media and keep an open line of communication about your kids' online lives with them and with other parents and teachers at their schools.

App details

Devices:iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android
Price:Free ($.99 to $4.99 in-app purchases)
Release date:February 20, 2014
Category:Social Networking
Size:7.50 MB
Publisher:Yik Yak
Version:1.3.3
Minimum software requirements:iOS 7.0 or later; Android 4.0 and up

This review of Yik Yak was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Adult Written bymkholmgreen November 3, 2014

Yik Yak promotes bigotry

If I could give Yik Yak zero stars, I would. Yik Yak deletes any comments raising awareness about “tough” issues such as rape, racism, sexual harassment, et cetera. While this app has the potential to be a platform for expression, Yik Yak promotes bigotry and hinders progression in furthering equal rights for genders and races. While Yik Yak deletes any comments (within seconds) that call attention to the issues of rape or violent hate crimes in our culture, it does not delete comments that further the negative stereotypes about genders and races. By doing this, Yik Yak robs its users of a basic, fundamental right: freedom of speech. This app could serve as a place for people who are victim of these negative stereotypes and inequality to have a place where they can speak up and not face serious consequences (violence) for expressing and standing up for themselves; instead, Yik Yak encourages bullies and bigots to insult people without consequence and hinder social progression towards human equality. I’m not saying Yik Yak should delete offensive comments, I’m saying Yik Yak shouldn’t delete the ones that actually could make a difference in this world and make people think twice about the society they’re living in. I sure hope someone actually sees this review before Yik Yak finds some way to delete this, too.
Parent Written bydavidh3 November 29, 2014

CYBER BULLYING APP BEWARE!!!!

Spoken to friends who have had awfull annonymous messages sent to a huge amount of users of this app about their 16yr old daughter and they cant be traced.. DONT USE... TOTALLY AWFULL MESSAGES AND PEOPLE AGREEING TO MEET OTHERS ARE NOT WHO THEY SAY THEY ARE!!!!
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Safety and privacy concerns
Teen, 15 years old Written byzyoung16 June 17, 2015

Don't even bother

Honestly, I think the app Yik Yak is pretty dumb. People on the app don't take it seriously and post things like, "Anyone wanna meet me for a drink?" or things like, "Who's down for some action tonight?" If people used this app for wide based conversations on politics or the environment then it would be a more appreciated app, but this is not the use. I think it is also displeasing that you can only see what people in your specific area post, I would love to see what people in Europe were posting.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Safety and privacy concerns

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