Sunday, May 28, 2017

The Rise and Fall of Yik Yak, the Anonymous Messaging App; New York Times, May 27, 2017

Valeriya Safronova, New York Times; The Rise and Fall of Yik Yak, the Anonymous Messaging App

"At the end of that year, Mr. Droll and Mr. Buffington laid off 60 percent of their employees, and last month, they shut down the operation, selling off intellectual property and employee contracts to Square Inc., a mobile payment company, for $1 million. A few months earlier, Hive, a college-based chat app with a similar color scheme to Yik Yak’s, popped up in the iTunes and Google Play stores, with Mr. Buffington in one of the screenshots. Whether it was an attempt at reinvention under the Yik Yak umbrella or a side project is unclear, but it is no longer available...

Morgan Hines, who will start her fourth year at Northeastern University in Boston this fall, never encountered nastiness on Yik Yak. “I thought it was funny,” she said. “It formed a lot of camaraderie between students. There would be random shout-outs to things happening on campus, like people who are attractive or being annoying in the library, or a fire alarm going off at 4 a.m.”

But Ms. Hines criticized Yik Yak’s hyper-localization. “Yik Yak was for pockets of people on campus,” she said. “If the fire alarm went off at 4 a.m., it only went off at your building, so no one else will give it a thumbs-up.”

That hyper-localization is also what made the cases of harassment particularly galling. Ms. Musick, one of the plaintiffs, said, “With Yik Yak, in the back of your mind, you know they’re not from around the world or other parts of the state, they’re right there in your classroom, in your dining hall. On a campus with 4,500 students, that’s a pretty small group of people. This isn’t some creepy guy in his mom’s basement in Indiana.”"

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