A member of the UConn Buy or Sell Facebook page has created an online petition for banning the University of Connecticut campus from the popular anonymous social media app, Yik Yak, due to cyberbullying.
The petition’s creator, Stephen Jackson, has created several posts and commented on others requesting that people sign the petition.
The anonymous nature of the app allowed students to make derogatory comments without consequences, which is why he felt he felt UConn’s Yik Yak should be disabled, Jackson wrote on the Change.org petition post.
“With anonymity, many students at UConn who use this app in a negative way feel they have zero accountability for their posts so they target classmates, spread rumors about them and even threats,” Jackson said. “I have seen school administrators, teachers and students ridiculed in there by name...The majority of our herd's community has proven time and time again that they cannot use this app in a positive/non-abusive way, this is beyond unacceptable.”
Yik Yak was created by Furman University students Tyler Droll and Brooks Buffington, as a type of informal forum for students to anonymously express their opinions. The app displays messages posted by anyone within a five mile radius of the user, according to Yik Yak’s main site.
Released in 2013, Yik Yak became the ninth-most downloaded app on the iTunes Store in the United States by 2014, according to App Annie, an app statistics website.
Users are able to upvote or downvote each “Yak” (the term used for posted messages), with the message being deleted if it reaches a certain number of downvotes.
The app has been surrounded by controversy since its release. Many schools, including Norwich University in Vermont, Emory University in Georgia and several high schools and school districts in the US have banned or attempted to ban the app due to instances of cyberbullying, discriminating comments and harassment of other users, according to the Huffington Post.
However, many argue that Yik Yak is a healthy outlet for minorities and underrepresented individuals to voice their opinions.
In a “Wired” opinion column from 2015, Iowa State University associate professor of education Rey Junco said that, while the severity of the comments on Yik Yak are given the majority of attention by the media, the app does benefit students by allowing them to explore their identities and opinions without the repercussions of being directly attributed.
Popularity in the Yik Yak app has dropped from 3.6 million active users in 2014 to 1.76 million in April 2016, according to App Annie, with other apps such as the German-based “Jodel” recently emerging.
At the time of this publication, Jackson’s petition reached eight signatures out of the 100 signature goal. Several students commented on Jackson’s original post saying that those who were experiencing cyberbullying on the app could simply delete it.
Jackson was unable to be reached for comment.
Marlese Lessing is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. She tweets @marlese_lessing.