At a time when social media threats have become more prevalent than ever before, Yik Yak has surfaced as one of the leading vehicles for threats aimed at schools in the United States, which is both alarming and challenging at the same time.
Launched in 2013, Yik Yak is a messaging application that allows users to anonymously post messages that can be seen by others within a 1.5-mile radius. Our research indicates that the radius is actually more like 2.5 miles.
Messages posted on Yik Yak can range from “good luck on your finals!” to “I am going to shoot up the school today” – you just never know what you’re going to see. The concept of anonymity has given students a false sense of security and they feel like their actions are consequence-free, which couldn’t be farther from the truth.
What’s interesting is that on Yik Yak’s website, under the Frequently Asked Questions section, the first question is: Can I post a threat with no repercussions? To which they reply: “No! Don’t be dumb. DON’T POST A THREAT. We take threats to safety very seriously and cooperate with local authorities if there’s a post that poses a threat to people.”
To combat abuse while students are at school, Yik Yak creates geofences around middle and high schools throughout the country. If one hasn’t already been created you can submit a Geofence Request via the company’s website.
But here lies the question: Is it better to create geofences that block students from posting on Yik Yak while at school, or does it make more sense to knock down the geofences and implement better measures for monitoring Yik Yak conversations?
The way I look at it, if you have an open tap with a flood of information, why shut it off? Instead of blocking students from posting while at school and forcing them to post at random locations that are extremely difficult to track, corral them into a digital net and hook offenders as threats are made.
We believe threats made on Yik Yak will continue to rise in the near future and we’re actively working on new ways to track and analyze conversations.