What Is Yik Yak? - NBC 7 San Diego

What Is Yik Yak?

Threat at Torrey Pines High School was posted on the social media app.

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    What Is Yik Yak?
    The logo for social media app Yik Yak.

    The social media site Yik Yak is in the local spotlight after an anonymous posting apparently led to a lockdown of Torrey Pines High School on Thursday morning.

    So, what exactly is Yik Yak? It works like an anonymous bulletin board, allowing users to post statements that other people in their immediate area can see.

    Every post can be voted 'up' or 'down' on the page. The app also has a feature that removes posts deemed offensive by two or more users.

    The app and website were intended to be an outlet for college students to anonymously share their thoughts, but some say it has turned into a medium for cyber bullying and threats.

    A high school in Manhattan Beach, just south of Los Angeles, was closed for the last two days after online threats.

    The Student Government Association at Emory University in Georgia introduced a resolution to disable usage of the app on campus, saying it promotes hate speech and discriminatory sentiments toward individuals.

    Other schools districts across the country, including a number in Chicago, have banned the app in schools.

    The Atlanta-based company, which was founded last year, wouldn’t do an interview with NBC 7. But a spokesperson in San Diego said the company works closely with law enforcement when it involves serious threats. By using GPS, Yik Yak can track down the device where the threat originated.

    "They will be reported to the police, and their real information will be given out," said cyber crime specialist Jim Stickley.

    He told NBC  7 Yik Yak was designed for college-age students, not high schoolers.

    The company released the following statement:

    "Currently, we are finding a best course of action is developing a sincere and responsive dialogue between parents, app creators and the younger generations. An open dialogue allows for the educating of younger generations on the responsible use of social media, while empowering parents to voice their concerns and learn about what safeguards exist, and ultimately enabling app developers to react to parental concerns in a timely and effective manner.

    “We recognize that with any social app or network, there is the likelihood for misuse from a small group of users, so we have built specific tools to prevent this from happening. We have geo-fenced all primary and secondary schools and turned the app to 17+ in stores to ensure the user base is age appropriate.”

    Parents can prevent their under-17-year-old from downloading apps rated 17+. If they have an iOS device: Go to “Settings,” select “General” and tap “Enable Restrictions.” You can set restrictions for “Installing Apps” and “In-App Purchases” there.