Yik Yak is currently the 7th most popular social networking app on iTunes. But if you're not a college student, you probably haven't heard of it. The latest app to invade college campuses across the country, Yik Yak allows users to anonymously create short posts called "yaks." Users can also view yaks that were posted within a 1.5 mile radius from their location and then upvote or downvote them.
With a large number of students confined to a relatively small area, this could mean hundreds of yaks posted per hour on campuses. The app has grown steadily since its launch in November 2013 and is now being used by students at over 1000 colleges. While there have been reports of the app being used for cyberbullying, steps have been taken to prevent or remove harmful posts.
A cross between Reddit and a message board, yaks can range from witty jokes to complaining about midterms to spreading the word about a house party. While it's good for a laugh or something to browse while you're bored during lecture, in its current state it doesn't serve as much more than a fun distraction for college students. However, that could change.
A new feature, "Peek," lets users see yaks within a 1.5 mile radius from anywhere on a map. The ability to be location specific helps Yik Yak stand out from other anonymous apps such as Whisper and Secret. Yik Yak developers Tyler Droll and Brooks Buffington hope that the app will evolve into a space where locals can report breaking news in real time, making it a handy source for journalists. While Twitter is still the go-to for the latest news, it's hard to filter tweets by location. Yik Yak has an advantage in that you can see what users are saying in a certain city.
"Anytime anything newsworthy happens, people are going to be going to Yik Yak to see what people there are saying," Buffington told Forbes.
Compared to other popular anonymous apps, Yik Yak is less of a confessional and more of a community forum. This gives it the potential to quickly spread vital information throughout a city. While posting a yak might seem silly right now, it could become more common soon. After all, no one knew what a tweet was just a few years ago.