After meeting an ignominious end in 2017, the anonymous gossip app once popular with college students lives again. Yik Yak, which was previously owned by Google, returned to the iOS App Store Monday. This sparked renewed interest in the social network that has been long gone.
Moderation was crucial to the app’s demise. The company had a bad reputation for cyber-bullying, harassment and other forms of bullying. Once ubiquitous on many college campuses, Yik Yak limped into 2016, laying off most employees and struggling to keep users engaged. However, the app failed to move away from campus gossip towards location-based social networks in that year. The once-highly-flying network was eventually sold.
Square purchased $1 million from Tyler Droll, Brooks Buffington and others to acquire the rights and intellectual property of some Yik Yak engineers. In 2014, the company was worth around $400 million. It had already raised $73 millions. TechCrunch reached out to the company in an attempt to find information on its new owner, who is allegedly based near Nashville. However, TechCrunch has not received a reply.
Although we don’t know who launched it again, Yik Yak’s new app is aware of its pitfalls. A short onboarding sequence informs users that they will be subject to a strict zero tolerance policy regarding bullying or threats.
“We’re committed to combating bullying and hate speech on the Yik Yak platform by any means necessary,” the new Yik Yak team, which acquired the rights to develop the app in February, wrote on a relaunched website.
It is very difficult to be aware of the issues that will arise in a social networking site and also to prepare for moderated discussions. Yik Yak can be anonymous but also focuses on the IRL happening in a specific area. These two elements could create additional moderation challenges.
The new app has a sidebar that directs users to “stay safe” resources. These can address a variety of problems such as ride-sharing and bullying. However, the app does not yet have explicit misinformation policies.
A section on the sidebar lists mental health resources. Users are encouraged to report bullying and downvote it so that the Yik Yak team can review. According to the company, yaks that have received negative ratings from more than five downvotes or more will be removed automatically from the app’s feed. However, we asked for further details on the content moderation plan and if there is a dedicated team at Yik Yak.
Yik Yak’s new feature is location-based. Users can send messages (called “yaks”) to any person within five miles of their home. You can enjoy the confessions on a chart that shows popular national posts if you are in rural areas.
Many high-ranking posts currently talk about excitement over the return of Yik Yak from ex-lovers — mostly young millennials who have since finished college. Popular posts caution that Gen Z users who haven’t used Yik Yak in its glory days won’t be able to recognize the impact.
One user asked, “Is this app 100% for 25-to-30 year olds?” Another user posted, “The Zoomers don’t want the Yak back.”
Publiated at Mon, 16 August 2021 21.38:38 +0000