Yik Yak

App review by
Dana Anderson, Common Sense Media
Yik Yak App Poster Image

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Gossipy, crass anonymous app lets you message nearby users.

Parents say

age 18+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 18+
Based on 1 review

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Educational Value

Created for entertainment and not with educational intent.

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 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 for an 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 were 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 that, therefore, the developer is not responsible for user-generated content.

Consumerism

The app previously included in-app purchases to boost posts' reach, but that option seems to have disappeared. Some users post about products, but there doesn't seem to be sponsored content. 

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.

What 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 anyone using it in the same geographic area. It 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, and in 2016 the app moved to requiring users to create a username (or "handle") and profile, though both can still be anonymous and don't require users to provide their real names. Unless the user's location is toggled off for each post, it can be seen by others. According to the terms of service, 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: It's not appropriate for kids.

User Reviews

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 cet... Continue reading
Adult 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.. DON... Continue reading
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?... Continue reading

What's it about?

Simply download the app and enable your device's location services to use YIK YAK, which will then let you post brief "yaks" about what you're up to or what you're interested in. As of 2016, users are required to create a username, and they're encouraged to create a profile with a photo, but neither are required, and there's no prompt to use your real name. Read other users' yaks, and tap the up or down arrows to "upvote" or "downvote" them. Other options include browsing local yaks by topic and following other users' yaks and connecting directly with users whose yaks appeal to you. 

Is it any good?

Ultimately, this is 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 to 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. In fact, there's a whole category in the app's online FAQ section related to how the app is blocked on middle school and high school campuses nationwide. That alone should be endorsement enough of this app's serious destructive potential. 

Though it 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 giving 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.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Yik Yak's focus on anonymous and geotagged posts, which raises concerns about people 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

For kids who love social networking

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