Concerns over abuse of the new Yik Yak app ranging from fake bomb threats to bullying hit Southern California this week as a prank threat posted on the app left thousands of students on lockdown while a bomb squad swept their campus.
The incident was the latest of three recent Yik Yak-instigated bomb threats , including two at a Massachusetts school. The third happened on Thursday at San Clemente High School in Orange County.
The school’s nearly 3,000 students were on lockdown for four hours. The app, which enables users to post anonymously, has angered some school officials. In Chicago calls for a ban spurred Yik Yak to disable the app.
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Bullying on other social media platforms including Facebook and ask.fm have been linked to teen depression and suicide.
Marcus Walton, chief communications officer for the Capistrano Unified School District, which includes San Clemente, cautioned against blaming Yik Yak for the bomb threat prank.
“Social media is just one tool,” he said. “It’s not the tool that’s used, it’s the matter in which it is used…It’s the behavior that matters.”
In Los Angeles, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles Unified School District said the district does not have a specific policy regarding Yik Yak. According to the LAUSD ‘s “Student Parent Handbook” the use of cell phones is prohibited “on campus during normal school hours.”
Yik Yak, which operates much like Twitter, has gained more than 240,000 followers since launching five months ago, according to USA Today. The app boasts “no profiles, no passwords, it’s all anonymous.”
According to the “Rules” section posted on the app, Yik Yak is intended for a mature audience, college age and over.
The apps rules sections says to “make sure that you are posting quality content. Herds of yaks are strongest when they work together and watch each others [sic] backs.”
Requests for comment from Yik Yak’s creators via email and social media were not returned.