'Twitter, But Anonymous': Yik Yak App Sweeps College Campuses - kcentv.com - KCEN HD - Waco, Temple, and Killeen

'Twitter, But Anonymous': Yik Yak App Sweeps College Campuses

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(KCEN) - Walk around a college campus, and just about everyone's tapping away on a smartphone.

New apps come along every day, and now students are flocking to a social network where they don't have to give their names, leading some to worry about what's being posted.

Ask students at Baylor, and you get a sense for how it's being used: "It's kind of like Twitter, but anonymous." "It's got a bunch of funny stuff on there." "Some of the things can be really mean." "It's an anonymous thing on a college campus, like, people are just going to go for it."

The app's called Yik Yak. The posts are called 'yaks.' The people who post, 'yakkers.' So, yakkers yak on Yik Yak.

It's a never-ending stream of posts (text only, no pictures) from just your area. It's hyper-local, so you only see yaks from a few miles around you.

"My friend's like, 'You got to get this app,'" Baylor freshman Gunnar Wilson said of the program. He's one of hundreds of thousands of people nationwide yakking away.

"My first impression was reading through it, like, it was really funny," Wilson said, before adding there's "some questionable stuff on there."

A lot of it is harmless fun, posts like "I have a crush on one of my teachers."

Others give updates about what's happening on campus. One on Friday told of a fight near one of Baylor's dining halls.

But others take a turn toward the dark side. "People feel free to post anything they want," said sophomore Darrin Ruot.

Here's how it works: All you really need is your cell phone, and once you download the free app, you can start posting pretty much whatever you want, completely anonymously. You can choose to show a location with your post, but then once you hit send, anyone else can comment on it, also anonymously.

"People post, like, the most ridiculous things that you would never say to anyone in person ever," Anabel Burke, a Baylor freshman, said.

You can find a lot of full names posted, along with some pretty graphic insults.

"It's kind of awful, like, these things people are saying," senior Jonathan Anzollitto said.

Caleb Ludrick, a junior, calls it a "quick descent into vulgarity."

"I, like, felt bad for the people that were being bashed," said freshman Julia Derdas, "so I ended up just deleting it."

There's also no shortage of conversations about alcohol and drug use.

"I feel like if it wasn't anonymous, then people would be more careful with what they said," said sophomore Alyssa Barney.

The posts aren't permanent, though: enough "down-votes" -- enough people disliking the post -- and it's deleted. Plus you can report offensive content. But that doesn't stop people from posting it in the first place.

And with the company claiming 100 new users per day in every market, the novelty of anonymity hasn't worn off.

"I just thought it was a genius idea," Wilson said.

Baylor administration didn't want to comment on this story specifically, but said they've dealt with plenty of other anonymous message boards in the past.

But the anonymity afforded on Yik Yak is not just helpful for people wanting to post the negative things, it can also be helpful to people who are surrounded by other students, but feel like they can't actually talk to any of them.

Take, for example, an exchange from Thursday night: the original post mentions struggles with depression and regular suicidal thoughts.

Other yakkers took to the comments, telling the poster, "It may sound cliche, but it does get better," "you are loved more than you can imagine," and "you aren't alone."

It's also a new avenue for a quick confidence boost.

"One of my best friends got mentioned as, like, the nicest of one of the Greek organizations," Derdas said, "and, like, the nicest girl in it, so that was positive."

And even with all the negativity on the app, some see an upside to that, too.

"It gives people the freedom to speak their own mind and give opinions that they might not feel as motivated to give if their name was out there," said Ruot.

And since you actually have to decide to look at what's posted, "It's better that than them coming out to someone in person," Burke said.

Even if the digital alternative, isn't always that attractive, either.

Right now the app is mostly geared toward college kids. Parents can restrict younger kids from downloading it.
    
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