Yik Yak

App review by
Dana Anderson, Common Sense Media
Yik Yak App Poster Image
Gossipy, crass anonymous app lets you message nearby users.

Parents say

age 18+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 18+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

None.

Diverse Representations
Ease of Play

Very easy to use. 

Violence

Anonymous threats posted against schools and individuals were reported in the pre-2021 version of the app. 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 users reporting those posts are the way they'll be removed.

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. 

Language

Widespread profanity including "f---," "s--t," and more.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Users post information about parties and bars. Content related to drinking, drugs, and smoking. 

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. Some posts include, "Do you ever just need to get f---ed hard?" and "Who else is horny af right now?" Though it was previously removed from the app store because of safety concerns, it was reinstated in 2021. 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. Other users within five miles are your "herd." 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. 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. Some links included in the 2021 release include "Stay Safe Resources," which strangely include general tips about ride-sharing and COVID-19. There's also a link to mental health resources. That section advises users that if they see bullying, they should downvote the post because posts that receive -5 upvotes will be removed. Of course, that could also mean that, if a teen is targeted, their posts may be removed because others purposely downvote their posts. A "Community Guardrails" section indicates that bullying, porn, and other behaviors aren't allowed, and that reporting those posts are the way to get them removed. That section also states that users can only post in English, which excludes many users from posting. Read the developer's privacy policy for details on how your (or your kids') information is collected, used, and shared and any choices you may have in the matter, and note that privacy policies and terms of service frequently change.

 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
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
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
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, enter your phone number to get a code (to prove you're human), 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. Read other users' yaks, and tap the up or down arrows to "upvote" or "downvote" them. Two tabs at the top are for "New" and "Hot" posts, and users can see comments from others. A "Share" button allows users to post content to other sites or share via messaging. "Yakarma" is an assigned set of points that includes with posting and upvotes 

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
  • Pricing structure: Free
  • 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
  • Last updated: August 18, 2021

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