Yik Yak is back, and the internet is a little meaner as a consequence - The UpStream

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Yik Yak is back, and the internet is a little meaner as a consequence

posted Saturday Sep 4, 2021 by Scott Ertz

Yik Yak is back, and the internet is a little meaner as a consequence

If you are fortunate, you may have completely missed the former social network Yik Yak. This platform, which shut down 4 years ago, was focused on local and anonymous communication. People were able to post anonymously, as well as view and comment anonymously on other users' posts within a 5-mile radius. If this seems like a terrible idea, you're paying attention. In fact, this is exactly why the network was shut down. However, some bad ideas just can't be killed, as a new group has purchased the brand and is bring it back to life.

The original showdown came about because the platform was filled with tons of sexual harassment, and even some bomb threats, just for good measure. The app was such a problem that schools had to ban the app because it gave easy access through its hyper-local features for students to bully one another without any idea who was doing the bullying. It was the original completely toxic social network, and potentially paved the way for the likes of Twitter and Facebook to descend from only mostly useless to completely useless.

According to the company's website, the platform (or maybe just its assets) was purchased by new owners in February 2021. The new owners are looking to position the platform somewhere in the void between where existing platforms are willing to take action and where they are not. The problem, of course, is that the premise of the platform - anonymous and hyper-local - are still there. The likelihood that the new owner will be able to hold back the flood gates against a raging storm of hate and anger is not great. But they have a plan.

The new Yik Yak is being governed by Community Guardrails (read community standards) that will prohibit bullying and hate speech. According to their stance on bullying and hate speech,

If someone bullies another person, uses hate speech, makes a threat, or in any way seriously violates the Community Guardrails or Terms of Service, they can be immediately banned from Yik Yak. One strike and you're out.

If you see someone bullying another person or making a threat, please immediately downvote and report the message. Message posts (yaks) that reach -5 total upvote points are instantly removed from the feed. When you report a post, our team reviews it as soon as possible and takes action when necessary.

All of that sounds nice and all, but it's been proven to not work in the past. YouTube believes that it has strong community standards, and yet they actively prohibit researchers from discussing their findings and encourage videos that target sexually inappropriate content to children. If the company that has indexed all of the information ever produced throughout human history cannot figure out how to keep people from threating one another or making sexually suggestive comments, how will a startup with absolutely no history be able to figure it out? My guess is that they won't.

If the new owners really wanted to make a local and anonymous social network, creating a new name would have been the better bet, because Yik Yak is tainted. Yik Yak should have stayed dead and buried.


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