Yik Yak is back: anonymous, local social app returns to iOS

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The anonymous, local Yik Yak social media app is resurrected.
The anonymous, local Yik Yak social media app is resurrected.
Photo: Yik Yak

When the social media app Yik Yak debuted in late 2013, it was a hit at colleges. Users remained anonymous and only posts in their immediate area showed up for them. But then the app lost what made it unique and the company disbanded. Now the app is back with new ownership and something like the original formula.

Yik Yak‘s popularity at colleges through 2014 led to a valuation of $400 million by investors. While the site’s allowance of users’ anonymity swelled its popularity, it also invited something else: harassment and bullying.

Decline and fall

In an effort to fix that, Yik Yak offered users optional social media handles in 2016 and then, later that year, made them mandatory. That erased what made the app unique, eroding its popularity.

In early 2017 it shut down. Square essentially bought it for parts for $1 million, cherrypicking engineering skills and intellectual property.

Risen from the ashes

Yik Yak’s new owners bought the rights to redevelop the service in February 2021, planning to provide a local social media network free from the “labels” that are such a big part of other platforms.

“Yik Yak is a radically private network connecting you with the people around you,” the website says. “No strings (or labels) attached.”

The new app is similar to the old one. Users can post and comment on short text posts that only users within a 5-miles radius can see. As with posts on Reddit, users can upvote and downvote posts, and a separate “hot” feed gathers up the past day’s top posts.

Standing against bullying and harassment

Yik Yak’s new ownership appears to strike a serious stance on bad behavior — bullying and harassment. The new website includes a long list of the app’s “community guardrails.” They prohibit sharing of personal information, “anything that could be construed as bullying, abuse, defamation, harassment, stalking, or targeted hate or public humiliation” and more. It’s an extensive list.

Yik Yak said bullying, hate speech, threats, or other violations of community guardrails or terms of service may mean immediate dismissal from the platform. Posts will have a scoring system. Any post with a score of negative 5 points gets hidden from view so that potentially harmful content does not spread further.

The new app is available only on iOS and only in the U.S., but the company plans expansions.

Price: free

Where to download: App Store