Yik Yak incites controversy within Augie groups


Brett Kuras

Yik Yak is a popular social media platform that allows users to create posts anonymously and share with other users in a five-mile radius. Yik Yak has recently taken Augustana by storm after being reinstated in the app store. Since then, the app has been showing signs of high usage and popularity, sometimes with negative impacts, as some students have noted.

Yik Yak was popular several years ago when many of the current student body was in high school. It was removed from the app store in 2017 due to the volume of discriminatory posts and serious threats posted in areas around college campuses. It returned in 2021, and it continues to uphold one of its core values: anonymity and the freedom to say almost anything.

Emma Cintado, President of Delta Chi Theta (DChi), said that as soon as the app became public again, her sorority and people in it were criticized.

“The app came back right at the beginning of the year, and I have already had girls coming up to me in tears, or sending me extremely long messages about stuff they saw about themselves on the app,” Cintado said. “They are scared that people are going to perceive them poorly, and they’re also really confused as to why it’s happening to them.”

Rachel Murray, the vice president of Phi Rho, relates to Cintado and the Dchi’s experiences.

“Most of the stuff the sorority ignores as a whole because most of it is so hard to believe,” Murray said. “We have had to address it a few times, though, because people have been name-dropped, and the sorority has had some pretty mean things said about it, things we had to take seriously.”

Yik Yak is not the first platform to allow anonymous users to post anything they want. Ask.fm, a social platform similar to Yik Yak, allows people to anonymously ask other people questions. When someone is asked a question by another user, said person can choose to respond to it and have the question and answer posted onto their page. Since Ask.Fm allowed anonymity when asking another user questions, it led to cyberbullying.

Business Insider reported that Ask. Fm faced backlash after nine people committed suicide due to bullying on the platform. In response, Ask. Fm emphasized their abuse reporting button, added a specific reporting category for abuse and will allow users to restrict the content they see from other users, Business Insider said.

“Yik Yak could 100 percent become the next Ask. Fm, with the same outcomes,” Cintado said. “A lot of people don’t think about how someone else’s mental health is doing when they post about that person, and they don’t realize that one more comment could push someone over the edge.”

While Yik Yak is still used quite often, both sororities have noticed that the attacks against their groups or their friends have decreased significantly.

“Yik Yak was released almost the same time we all came back,” Murray said. “Everyone was talking, a ton of events were happening, I think that’s one of the reasons that so many groups and people were being attacked.”

Although Yik Yak has diverted its attention away from criticizing groups on campus, sorority presidents are still aware that more drama and rumors could pop up any day.

“Believing things on Yik Yak is like judging a book by its cover,” Cintado said. “Make your own opinions about what you read or see, and don’t remain close-minded and believe one side of a story. Almost every time, there is nothing to verify any of the rumors or what anyone posts on there.”