By Kierstyn Parker, Chattanooga, Tenn.– Yik Yak, an anonymous social media app launched in 2013, has sparked controversy across college campuses all over the country.
It prompted a protest by students at Colgate University in New York in September 2014, who were offended by the amount of racial slurs posted on the app.
In January, Clemson University officials said they were considering banning Yik Yak from the campus wireless network because of racially offensive threats that were posted.
So if it has been perceived as a playground for people to threaten and verbally abuse others under the protection of anonymity, why are students accessing the app?
At UTC, students find it to be a source of entertainment. Hannah Lillibridge, a junior from Chattanooga, likened it to a daily newspaper.
“I find some of the posts to be hilarious,” Lillibridge said. “I can open it up and read what people are doing. It keeps me informed on what’s going on around campus. But I never post, I only read to get information.”
However, Emily Drouyn, freshman from Ontario, Canada, has a different opinion on the app.
“I deleted it a week after downloading it,” she said. “Personally I found it to be a waste of time. You can spend hours reading stuff and not realize it.”
Other students, like Ian Goodman, sophomore from Smyrna, Tenn., did not lean a particular way when it comes to considering the posts about their school.
“I used it last semester,” Goodman said. “But I am the type of person to get tired of apps easily, so I don’t read anything on Yik Yak anymore.”
Jinho Lim, freshman from Chattanooga, said “I barely get on it, and when I do, I normally use it as a way to pass the time between classes.”
Kyra Duke, freshman from Murfreesboro, Tenn., called the posts on the app “pitiful drama,” and said she no longer finds it to be funny. Rather than finding an alternative app to pass the time, she said “I wish people would focus on going back to hanging out with friends, instead of finding entertainment through these apps.”
So far, UTC continues to allow the app to be accessed through its wireless network, but it is unavailable to use around elementary and middle schools. Students in housing around Brown Academy may read a message that tells them the app is disabled.
These geographic fences built into the app are efforts to curb incidents of the cyber-bullying reported about the app.
If there are offensive posts shared on the app, users are able to down-vote the post until it is deleted or report it so it can be taken down immediately.