Michigan State University students, staff concerned over return of Yik Yak

Michigan State University students, staff concerned over return of Yik Yak
Published: Mar. 24, 2022 at 10:12 PM EDT|Updated: Mar. 24, 2022 at 11:08 PM EDT
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EAST LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Yik Yak, a social media app that allows users to create anonymous posts and messages, has returned.

The app was shut down following criticism over reportedly facilitating cyber-bullying, threats and other inappropriate messages. Some are concerned the issues that caused it to be shutdown could happen again.

Due to the anonymity, people had a history of posting inappropriate thoughts and threats, some of which ended in legal action.

“It’s serious,” said McKoy Scribner. “You can’t be joking about that stuff anymore.”

Scribner is a senior at Michigan State University. He knows about Yik Yak’s troublesome history of making threats to schools. In 2015, a former MSU student was charged with making a false threat of terrorism against the school using the app. He was sentenced to two years probation.

He wasn’t the only one. Multiple cases were reported across the country until the app was shut down in 2017.

People are concerned about the app’s recent revival.

“I think this is a big misinformation app,” Scribner said. “I think that people should obviously do their research before they screenshot, share, or post anything on Yik Yak.”

The app has also been used to say mean things about people anonymously. It’s something Emma Falk has seen on Yik Yak.

“People will get called out on there. A lot of people don’t take it that seriously, just because you don’t know what information is true and what’s not true,” Falk said. “So a lot of people that are called out on that -- you might remember their name for a day or two but it just goes away.”

Dr. Ruth Shillair is the director of the MSU Department of Media and Information. She said Yik Yak relaunched the app with new community guidelines with a zero tolerance for targeting a person or group in a negative way, but she doesn’t have much faith that it’ll actually solve the problem.

“Just the nature of being anonymous, a lot of people will say hurtful and harmful things,” Shillair said. “I still see ways that you could harm someone so quickly that it would be hard to undue that damage.”

Some students have even used Yik Yak to call out their professors. Shillair said it makes her feel badly because many of her colleagues care deeply for their students and knows they would be devastated to know that’s how they felt.

As part of the app returning, there is now a section for mental health resources to help those impacted.

Related: Michigan joins nationwide investigation into TikTok’s impact on children

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