Anonymous messaging apps were all the rage back in the mid-2010s. Yik Yak, one of the most popular of those back in the day, shut down in 2017, but now it's back from the dead. A new version has hit the iOS App Store.
Yik Yak is only available in the US and on iPhone for now, as Mashable notes, but it will expand to other regions and devices soon. As before, it's a message board app that connects you to other people in a five-mile radius. However, that localized aspect, plus the fact that users can post anonymously, led to reports of widespread bullying and harassment (and even bomb threats) on Yik Yak at colleges, high schools and elsewhere.
📣 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!
— Yik Yak (@YikYakApp) August 16, 2021
The developers of the revived Yik Yak seem aware of the problem. Along with mental health resources and guidance on staying safe, the app's website lays out extensive "community guardrails."
Yik Yak doesn't allow users to post personal information or engage in any kind of bullying, harassment, bigotry or threats. Nor are users allowed to promote or encourage suicide or self-harm. "Overly graphic violent depictions," spam, fake news, dissuading others from voting in elections and trolling are also off-limits. Although community management is a tough nut to crack and anonymity adds an extra hurdle to enforcing rules, outlawing a broad range of harmful content at the outset is a positive move.
After Yik Yak shut down in 2017, partly because many of its users moved to other apps like Snapchat, Square bought some of the app's intellectual property and hired several engineers. It's not yet clear who's behind the new version.
Although Yik Yak and fellow anonymous messaging app Secret closed shop, image-based Whisper has stuck around since 2012. That's despite Whisper having its own troubles to deal with, such as exposing user info (including identifiable location data) in a database that was open to all for years.