The controversial app Yik Yak is officially back, 4 years after shutting down
- Social media app Yik Yak made a comeback on Monday with an updated look and new rules for users.
- The app lets users post anonymous messages locally.
- The company recently updated its Facebook profile picture, leading to speculation of its return.
The once popular social media app Yik Yak has officially returned to the app store, four years after shutting down.
The new owners of the company, now Yik Yak, Inc., purchased the rights to redevelop the app from digital payments company Square Inc. in February 2021, according to the app's website.
"We're bringing Yik Yak back because we believe the global community deserves a place to be authentic, a place to be equal, and a place to connect with people nearby," the new creators said on the webpage.
The app, which debuted in 2013, allowed anonymous users to send "yaks," or short, gossipy messages sent to other users within a 1.5-to-5-mile radius of their current location. The messages could be up or down-voted by other users. The app, once valued at over $400 million, was popular among high school and college-aged students in its heyday.
Much of app's functionality remains the same as it did in the mid-2010s, such as its user anonymity and messaging radius, albeit with an updated, emoji-themed aesthetic.
-Yik Yak (@YikYakApp) August 16, 2021
On its webpage, the company outlines new "community guardrails" that aim to address some ethical issues of the original app. It warns of sharing personal details about a user, like names, physical attributes, and social handles. There is also a one-strike "no bullying" policy, which can get users banned if they engage harassment, bigotry, violence, sexual solicitation, and criminal activity on the app. The site also provides links and information on mental health and mindfulness resources.
The app was shut down in April 2017 after a decrease in user engagement and growing criticism around the use of its platform for rampant cyberbullying and threats of bombs and shootings, which in some cases led to school evacuations and lockdowns. It has yet to be seen how effective the new guidelines will be given the rise of misinformation and divisive language on social media since Yik Yak was last active.
Yik Yak updated its Facebook profile picture last week with a new logo. Some users on Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok started sharing excitement about its potential return, while others shared concerns about whether the app could once again lead to bullying.
-| KΛRINΛ | (@_KokoDidIt) August 15, 2021
-mariah (@MariahNotCarey_) August 12, 2021
-Taylor Huckaby (@iwriterealgood) August 14, 2021
-Amanda Atwell (@AmandaMAtwell) August 14, 2021
-Jess (@JessOsrs) August 14, 2021
Yik Yak, Inc. and Square Inc. did not respond to requests for comment about the app's return.
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