Yik Yak: anonymity in an app

Students on campus have been talking about their concerns and responsibilities associated with posting online in response to the rise in popularity of two new apps, Yik Yak and Fade, which allow users to post text or photos anonymously.

Yik Yak, an app for iOS and Android devices, allows people to anonymously create and view posts within a one-and-a-half-mile radius, depending on how many other users are nearby.

Users up vote or down vote posts that they either like or dislike, and can also comment anonymously. If a post gets more than five down votes, it is removed from the feed.

“It’s basically just Twitter for cowards,” said senior criminology major Aliana Ciampa. “Who wouldn’t voice their opinions if they didn’t have to be held accountable?”

Junior chemistry major Ashley Fairweather said, “‘All the girls in North 642 can get it any time’ was what was posted about me and my roommates. When people posts things like that it feels violating because you don’t know who’s watching.”

Co-founder of Yik Yak Brooks Buffington said in an interview with The Huffington Post, “We were naïve. We designed the app primarily for college students. Using the app the way we intended it to be used requires a certain amount of maturity and responsibility. We were idealistic about who possessed that.”

Senior sociology major Mathew Davis said, “I’ve seen a lot of posts of people trying to meet other people. I don’t know how successful they’ve been, but I know I definitely wouldn’t meet up with anyone.”

Fade, another new app for iPhone and Android smartphones, is similar to Yik Yak but allows users to post anonymous pictures along with text.

“I think that Fade can definitely be used in the wrong way,” said senior economics major Thomas Barry. “In the wake of an [alleged] sexual assault at Framingham State, I’m concerned about the potential misuse and violation of privacy that this app allows for.”

Fade users may post as many photos to the app as they’d like. However, only one photo per day may be anonymous. In the short time the app has been available on the Framingham State campus, most users have opted to keep their name attached to their pictures.

“I think Fade is a compelling app,” said top “Fader” senior Tyler DeMoura. “Like Yik Yak, it allows you to share social commentary with others around you by pairing words with a visual. The voting system adds another level, because the community gets to regulate itself and what kinds of things it finds amusing. It’s a nice spin on Instagram. It lets you see posts by people you wouldn’t necessarily follow, and therefore is more balanced to reflect the community at large.”

To date, DeMoura’s account has been deactivated due to “reports of abuse.”  DeMoura had 451 total likes across 24 photos. The more “likes” a photo receives on Fade, the longer it stays around in the communal chat room.

Most photos posted since its launch have been of places around campus with humorous captions attached to them or pictures of students in class.

“I think a lot of the posts on Yik Yak and Fade are pretty funny,” said senior visual communications major Jamie Chaves. “But I can see how people would find most of them gross. It’s just entertainment, not really useful. Only a fad. Soon Yik Yak and Fade will fade away.”

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