Every Response I Got When I FOIA’d The Year’s Dumbest App

Every Response I Got When I FOIA’d The Year’s Dumbest App

When the soul-crushingly simple, single-serving messaging app Yo hit the App Store earlier this year, people couldn’t say enough about the app that said barely anything at all. But given our pseudo-surveillance state and similar apps’ privacy concerns, we wondered — could the government be spying on (or even just talking about) Yo?

After submitting requests to various government agencies under the Freedom of Information Act, this is what we learned. E pluribus Yo.

Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)

I am both delighted and horribly ashamed when I imagine the FOIA officer that was forced to conduct this search.

National Security Agency (NSA)

Now we’re getting somewhere. Of course, this doesn’t mean that there’s definitely something Yo-related hiding in the NSA archives. But it also doesn’t mean that there’s definitely not something.

Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)

Nobody likes a quitter.

National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA)

First thought: A world where Yo is at the center of the net neutrality debate is not a world I want to live in. Second thought: Andrew gets it.

Federal Communications Commission

False. Yo is all things.

Department of Commerce

There were about two hundred more words worth of questions that followed, all of which attempted to pinpoint the exact details of my Yo-related inquiry. No records were ultimately found.

Food and Drug Administration (FDA)


Hi Ashley, This is Paula calling from the FDA FOIA office. You submitted an online FOIA to us here at the FDA regarding the mobile application…. Yo? We were wondering what that has to do with the FDA, you know, the Food and Drug Administration… and you sent it to us.

Touché, Paula. I decided it was probably best to let this one drop.

So, boys and girls, what did we learn? As suspected, the government is (maybe probably) not spying on Yo. Though, they are vaguely aware of its existence. And Paula, we’re sorry.

Art: Jim Cook