Messaging App Yik Yak Gains Popularity in Fayette County


Zara Morgan, Managing Editor/Features Editor

UPDATED March 3, 2022 12:20 p.m.

Yik Yak is a messaging app that was created in Nov. 2013 and has recently garnered much popularity around Fayette County. The app has two unique anonymous messaging boards. The first messaging board is composed of people located only in a five mile radius of the user and the second messaging board is composed of messages that are the most popular throughout the entire country. The app’s mission is found in their slogan to help people “find your herd.”

The app was created as a hobby by Tylar Droll and Brooks Buffington, graduates of Furman University South Carolina. Their main goal for the app at the time was to give college students a platform for gossip. Depending on the success/number of upvotes your “yak,” or message, received the more “Yakarama” one received.

According to the Next Web, “You can think of it as an equivalent of the Reddit karma score.”

As the platform grew, it gained more complex features such as a profile option and map. The app became a major platform for inappropriate and racist comments. Eventually, the popularity of the app reached a point low enough to shut the app down in its entirety. Despite the shutdown, the app was sold for less than $3 million dollars to a company called Square.

Four years later, Yik Yak was revived in Aug. 2021. In a tweet sent out on Aug. 16, 2021, Yik Yak said, “ICYMI: After a 4-year hiatus, Yik Yak is available in the App Store again! Anonymity, location-based, the hot feed & more — everything you used to love about Yik Yak! Now available on iPhone in the US — more countries and devices coming soon.”

Mainly, users from McIntosh and the surrounding area have started to use Yik Yak as a platform for online harassment and bullying of other students.

Some of the comments have been milder. One user wrote “Anime recommendations?” and was given the recommendations of “Attack on Titan” and “One Piece.”

However, these comments are few and far between. Despite the app being anonymous, with probable cause the school does have the right to subpoena the records from the Yik Yak in order to find the identities behind the users and there are potentially severe consequences for students that choose to use Yik Yak for bullying and harassment.

According to Officer Brandon Weathersby, “[Punishments] could be a student discipline at the school or it can go as far as criminal charges.”

Many McIntosh students have been under the subject of severe scrutiny on the messaging board. Some users of the app have expressed that they are grateful for not being gossipped about by expressing relief for their lack of popularity.

One of the anonymous users commented, “Me being thankful that I’m relevant, but not relevant enough to be posted. Amen.”

Another user summarized the app best when they compared the app to Nextdoor, an app that focuses on connecting communities. The user wrote, “This app is like next door, but with cyberbullying.”

“[I]t’s putting people down, hurting people’s feelings, and it’s causing a lot of friction between students,” Weathersby said. “There’s people that are saying inappropriate and rude stuff to students, and it’s uncalled for.”

“It’s an easy way for people to be malicious to one another,” senior Jason Lawson said. “Anonymity only goes so far when everyone is immature.”