Yik Yak app provides anonymous forum


Anonymity has always been something that attracts people due to its ability to create “freedom” and “safety.”  The Puget Sound Confessions page has evolved. Students are using an app called Yik Yak to post anonymously.

Yik Yak is a seven-month old app that has made its way on to Puget Sound’s campus. The app is self-described as an anonymous gossip app. “It was created by Brooks Buffington and Tyler Droll […] in 2013,” according to Yik Yak’s website.

“It just blew up,” co-creator Buffington stated on Yik Yak’s website. “One university had 2,000 people sign up within the first day.”

The app serves as an anonymous forum where people can post an unlimited amount of “yaks,” almost similar to twitter but anonymous. Yik Yak posts are limited to 200 characters and can only be read by people within a 1.5 mile radius of the person who is posting.

Students can be seen checking Yik Yak throughout the day. The point system that Yik Yak uses, which is known as Yakarma, turns the app into a sort of game. Posts become a way for students to gain some form of validation by gaining likes or up-votes.

“Whenever I get a like on my post I feel really cool,” first year Matthew Sherman said. “I feel like I made people laugh.”

Yakarma is how the app keeps track of your usage of the app. Points are earned by posting “yaks” or comments that get a lot of likes. Negative points are earned when a post gets dislikes or down votes. Points are also earned by being on the app frequently.

“Yik Yak is an interesting app. It seems like students at UPS are using it as a replacement for the UPS Confessions page,” Assistant Professor in Communication Studies Nick Brody said.

The Puget Sound Confessions page, which was briefly taken down by its creator, seems to have had less and less traffic.

“There are many different communications tools available; each user or community of users decides which tools are most effective in meeting their own needs,” Puget Sound’s Media Relations Manager Shirley Skeel said.

“Anonymity frees people up to say and do things that they may not otherwise say if they were identifiable,” Brody said. “If we knew who they were they wouldn’t feel as liberated to say these things.”

The ability to be anonymous plays a large role in the popularity of apps and websites such as and Yik Yak. Unlike the confessions page, Yik Yak is completely anonymous and can’t be taken down.

“People who are in the age demographic of college students have had a history that has been recorded online,” Brody said.  “Whereas an app like Yik Yak that provides anonymity allows for them to post without any recording of their personal identity.”

“Private” or anonymous forums provide a “safe space” for students to express themselves. Students get a sense of freedom and safety as they post.

“I think because it’s all anonymous people feel like they can say whatever they want,” Sherman said. “People can say weird and strange things without judgment.”

Yik Yak has the potential to become a forum for bullying and gossip. When mean or hurtful “yaks” are posted, those posts tend to get a lot of dislikes. The responsibility of the posts falls upon the students posting, not the app or its creators.

“When Snapchat first came out, everyone heralded it as a sexting app,” Buffington stated on Yik Yak’s website. “Hopefully when we get passed all of that initially, people will realize Yik Yak is not just a place for gossip.”