A mobile app called Yik Yak has recently become a breeding ground at ENC for cyber bullying, sexual harassment, and harsh comments, causing it to be blocked from ENC’s Wi-Fi as of Sept. 24.
According to Yik Yak’s website, users can post statuses and “get a live feed of what everyone’s saying around [them],” under a blanket of anonymity. “Yaks,” or statuses, automatically expire from the live feed after around 12 hours.
Under Yik Yak’s Rules and Info page, the first rules states, “You do not bully or specifically target other yakkers.”
The second rule states, “You DO NOT bully or specifically target other yakkers.”
Despite this being the most important rule, some ENC students have been ignoring it. Specific students’ names from ENC have been used in threats, offensive comments, and instances of sexual harassment.
All posts from users in a certain geographical area will see what other people in their immediate area are “yaking” about. At ENC, the Yik Yak radius extends from Merrymount Park to Billings Road, and from Newport Avenue to Quincy Shore Drive. This radius encompasses all of ENC’s East Elm campus.
Dean of Students Marion Mason stated that administration has made security aware of this situation, and that Yik Yak is currently a “hot button topic” for administration.
“We want to be aware of students’ rights, but when people are exercising them in a way that makes them feel unsafe, we have to take action to prevent that and make sure students feel safe again,” Mason said.
Another Yik Yak rule states that “if you see a useless or offensive yak, make sure to do your part by downvoting or reporting it.” It is the users’ responsibility to report offensive yaks. Users can do this by taking a screenshot and sending it to Yik Yak.
“There’s a course of action that we’re coming up on, not just of [dealing with] the app, but of who is making the threats,” Mason said.
Some ENC students are upset with the behavior occurring on Yik Yak. Newly elected freshman class president Chris Estep has taken a particular interest in seeing the app and behavior terminated.
“We need a broader conversation on campus about proper behavior on social media,” Estep said, “Apps like Yik Yak allow people to say things without being held accountable, but the foundation of any healthy campus community is based on trust. So, student leaders need to see this app and others like it as a fundamental threat to the kind of community that we’re trying to strengthen at ENC.”
Yik Yak launched in November 2013 but has just hit ENC popularity a few weeks ago.
In the past several months, Yik Yak has been in the news as a means of high school and college students making bomb and shooting threats, as well as cyber bullying. On Sept. 24, Fox 8 from Indianapolis reported that a 19-year-old girl from Indiana State was arrested, because she posted a shooting threat on Yik Yak.
The article reminds readers that “nothing online is truly anonymous. If you post something criminal, police will be able to get information and find who posted it.”
Although ENC Wi-Fi has blocked the Yik Yak app and site, students can still access it through their mobile data.
Mason said that if a student feels targeted or unsafe because of something posted on Yik Yak to make an official complaint to SDO or security.