The ‘Anonymous’ Chat App Yik Yak is Back

The ‘Anonymous’ Chat App Yik Yak is Back
Screenshot: Shoshana Wodinsky (Yik Yak)

Good news, fellow millennials. Yik Yak — the anonymous messaging app once popular with college students across the country — is back. Roughly four years after the company’s co-founders announced the app’s shutdown, the company’s Twitter account sprang back to life on Monday to announce the app was back for a new generation of Yakkers.

There are so many questions we have about the relaunch — namely, why? Why bother rebooting an app whose popularity was already on a steady decline when it was first shut down in 2017? Why recruit the guy who played Kevin on The Office to make the announcement? Why put him in a bucket hat??????????

At least right now, those questions are going unanswered. The only detail the company offered in the official announcement thread is that while the app is currently only available for iPhone users in the US, it will be coming to more countries and devices “as soon as possible.”

For those that missed the Yik Yak mania the first time around, the platform is essentially an open, anonymous message board for anyone within a five-mile radius. After booting up the app on my own phone, I found pages and pages of Yakkers from my own New York City neighbourhood posting about, well, everything: Cuomo, COVID-19, Ray Ramano, halal food, and the nature of Yik Yak itself.

For the most part, this was the sort of fare that populated the bulk of the app when it was at its height in the mid-2010’s. But as you might expect with an anonymous chatting app, it also saw its fair share of violent threats and hate speech, culminating in at least four students being arrested for threats that they made on the app. Obviously, those arrests demonstrated that the app was not, in fact, anonymous.

This time around, Yik Yak seems better prepared to deal with these issues. In a lengthy list of community “guardrails” published on the company’s site, Yik Yak reminded users that harassment was something that had no place on the platform. “Remember that a person being bullied can feel alone, depressed, or friendless,” the company wrote. “Whether on Yik Yak or elsewhere, be an advocate for anyone being bullied. Reject hate!”