Once upon a time, Facebook
was only accessible to college students, providing them an exclusive community in which to share their favorite movies, quotes and update friends on what they were doing at that moment. Now, it’s a global phenomenon – but whatever it is today, its roots are embedded on college campuses.
A newer online community, Yik Yak, is plodding along the same path. It allows users to engage in an online community that is within a five-mile radius of where they are currently. Middle schools, high schools and colleges can actually fence off their location to make their Yik Yak community private, and many colleges have opted to do just that.
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But where Facebook was and is all about identifying yourself, Yik Yak allows users to post anonymously. And you can post about anything.
While Yik Yaks aims to foster small community through sharing jokes and talking about events or moments, the anonymity of the app also allows users a forum to post negative comments about individuals or groups on campus. In some instances, it was allowing students to post disparaging remarks about racial protests on campuses
, creating even more tension.
Yik Yak founders, Tyler Droll and Brooks Buffington, hope to curb cyber bullying and trolling on the app by allowing users to create screen names now, according to Huffington Post
. Their hope is that screen names will help to personalize the experience and offer more of a real community in which people have favorite users they can follow and eventually with whom they can form real relationships. However, screen names will be optional – or have the ability to be turned on and off.
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While this new feature doesn’t solve the issue entirely, it does allow users to own up to their posts or comments. And while this type of forum for dialogue is relatively new, it doesn’t hurt for college students
to follow some age-old advice when using anonymous online communities: if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.