Yik Yak dangers outweigh benefits

The Yik Yak application has been used to post harmful threats to universities across the country.- Susan Broadbridge
The Yik Yak application has been used to post harmful threats to universities across the country.- Susan Broadbridge

As most USM students and faculty have been notified by either call, text message or email from Eagle Alert, recent threats on the social media application Yik Yak have been posted, causing commotion, worry, complaints and fear throughout the university. 

The threats are poorly written and posted with minimal intent to do anything. With Yik Yak being an anonymous application where people can post without being identified (and yet tracked by the police), users have been taking advantage of this anonymity. After the second threat was made toward this university, more than an arrest should have been made.

The application in its entirety should be shut down to prevent nationwide hysteria, which would occur because of ludicrous comments made on an application mainly used by young college students. 

“It throws the whole campus off,” said Rebecca Aucoin, a junior anthropology major.  “I think Yik Yak should be shut down along with the Confessions page.” 

Society is all about trends and bandwagon techniques. According to the Hattiesburg American, the Yik Yak threats began with a student’s post on Yik Yak threatening gun violence at the University of Alabama, and similar threats have been made nationwide at other universities and schools. Once a “funny” joke or statement is made, others will follow.

Why do folks make these threats on social media? I believe attention is their craving. Their amusement is to get a reaction out of a large crowd, as in an entire university and all its students and workers. What a shameful way to entertain yourself or to even express your intense hate for a particular institution or a group in an institution! In what right mind would one be in to even think of posting these threats?

“The guy was charged for a felony,” said Aucoin. “You think it’s anonymous, but it’s not. You can ruin your life by making the slightest offhanded comment.”

Sure, Yik Yak is entertaining with ridiculously (and sometimes humorously) thought-out posts being shown every 60 seconds, but the posters’ statements and comments can get outright offensive, weird and irrelevant. 

The only benefit I see of this application is that it brings minimal entertainment to those who are bored out of their minds and have absolutely nothing to do (which is usually not true – we all have things to do at all times). 

There are more dangers to the app than benefits. One mistaken statement, anonymous or not, can put a person or people in jeopardy. 

Brandon Hardin, poster of the first threat, incriminated himself, being set on a bond of $40,000 according to University Police. Hardin should have his lesson learned after getting arrested. Yes, his punishment was harsh, but the widespread panic he caused throughout the university was a pretty big deal. 

These issues can’t be taken lightly ever since the Virginia Tech shooting in April 2007.

“Nothing is anonymous,” University Police Chief Bob Hopkins said, according to a Hattiesburg American article. “You may not have to put your name on (a post), but there is a road map as to who did it. Some are easy and some are more difficult and take a little more time, but eventually you get in the ballpark of who that person is, and you’re able to resolve (the case).”

University Police are still investigating the second threat made on Yik Yak on Thursday, which threatened that “the purge” would occur. Hopefully, the second hooligan will be caught and taught a lesson, and hopefully no more threats will be made. Use Yik Yak with class, USM.