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  • MaryGrace Lerin

Social media app YikYak is back in app stores 

I'm not sure what to think of this, but if you're curious for some reason, your favorite anonymous social media app YikYak has returned to app stores in the United States.

Why? No one can say for sure, but the app's new owners claim that the world "deserves a place to be authentic, equal, and connect with people nearby." They must have seen an opportunity to capitalize on local engagement given the pandemic, which brought us relatively close to our own homes. Yet, releasing it this late does seem a bit odd.

When YikYak was first designed, it allowed users to express themselves anonymously by posting comments and notes (called "Yaks"), which other users within a five-mile radius could view, upvote, or reply to. It's possible to gush about local businesses anonymously, without any of the extra stress of connecting your name or image to it.

As a result, it's ideal for criticism and abuse, which is a huge factor why it was closed down in the first place.

Since its launch in 2013, YikYak has grown to over 200 million active users and a $400 million valuation. While cyber bullies and internet trolls took advantage of the anonymity, the company was forced into reversing course and handing over information to the authorities when warrants were issued.

At some point, Snapchat tapped into its market share and grew, and with YikYak's limited use case and troll issues made it a less attractive choice for users. Eventually, after four years, it was forced to shut down.

With the lessons learned from those early years, YikYak's new website outlines different 'guardrails' and safety features to address such issues. But it appears to be a moderation disaster waiting to happen, particularly in these times of COVID misinformation and political division in society.

In the current social media landscape, does YikYak have a place or a need?

In YikYak's opinion, there is:

"YikYak helps unite local communities. College campuses, music festivals, cities, large workplaces, and anywhere in between instantly become friendly herds of fresh new ideas, jokes, perspectives, and friends."

There is no guarantee that it will work, but if you're keen on finding out what people in your local community are interested in, you now have another option. Maybe.

YikYak V2 is now available on iOS in the United States, and support for more countries and devices coming soon.

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