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The Student Voice of UNC Asheville

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The Student Voice of UNC Asheville

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On campus app gets students Yakking

By Sarah Coffelt  – [email protected] – Contributor | Nov. 10, 2014 |

Photo Illustration by Brian Vu
Students post anonymously through app Yik-Yak. – Photo Illustration by Brian Vu

It’s the scribbles on the bathroom stall of social media.

Difference is, you’re using your phone instead of the pen in your back pocket.

College students across the United States are using a new application, Yik Yak, which recently became a huge hit at UNC Asheville.

Its anonymity can be enticing, but Sam Groesbeck, senior management student, says sometimes, the effects aren’t rewarding.

“The anonymity is also bad because people just kind of feel that it’s a no-consequences thing and say whatever they want,” Groesbeck says. “They’re not really thinking about how it affects other people.”

Yik Yak is a free app created by two Kappa Alpha fraternity brothers from Furman University. It was initially made for Greek organizations on college campuses, so people could post anonymous messages read by others within a 1.5 mile radius, according to Business Insider.

The app can be used to post or scroll through messages, but for Zack Martin, mechatronics student, and Eric Edelstein, a psychology student, the application provides a means of fun competition.

“I just got to the point where I wanted to be at the top of the board,” Martin says. “There was no other point to yakking. I barely read it.”

Martin says he posted at most 76 times in one day, trying to make it to the top of the board.

And he succeeded.

“The weird thing is that of those 76, about 20 of them were at the top of the board.” Martin says. “The first 20 were all mine.”

“Whoa, whoa, whoa – I was in there that day too,” Edelstein says, interrupting Martin. “I had like three or four posts.”

Other students, like Keenan Devaney, sophomore Spanish student, rarely use the application for posting. Devaney says he spends most of his time on Yik Yak reading posts.

“Unless I come up with something really clever, I’m just going to continue reading and staying on that side of things.”

But what makes this application so controversial?

Yik Yak can be used as a cloak for people to express their opinions without fear of retribution. But anonymity is a double-edged sword.

The application can be used to bully different people, according to Adweek.

“People can take shots at other people, and then have no backlash because no one knows who it is,” Devaney says. “So they can really take advantage of the whole anonymous posting without as many consequences.”

Yik Yak does have a self-regulating policy.

If students see a post that is negative or inappropriate, they can downvote it.

“We’re in Asheville and Asheville seems to be pretty accepting,” Martin says. “Whenever there is any sort of lash out that I’ve seen, it instantly gets five downvotes, or people comment.”

As for UNCA, the Yik Yak posts are more positive than negative and people on campus enjoy the application because of this, Martin says.

Devaney, Edelstein and Martin all have one thing in common: the belief that Yik Yak’s existence at UNCA is funny, uplifting, and for the most part, positive.

But that belief can differ elsewhere.

According to an AP Regional State Report from Mississippi, a student at the University of Southern Mississippi was arrested and charged for posting a threat to cause injury on Yik Yak.

Luckily, Asheville tells a different story.

“The most negative posts I’ve seen have actually been about depression and feeling lonely.” Devaney says. “Which if I went to read the comments, all of the comments were positive afterwards.”

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