Yik-Yak struggles to control flow of negative, explicit content

Founders say they are working to strengthen community control of content

Recent changes to anonymous social media app Yik-Yak, enacted to strengthen communities, are resulting in major issues for some college students. 

Recently Yik-Yak began allowing people to post under usernames, be it their real name or not. People could then "mute" certain usernames if they did not want to read content from that person. However, a lack of username verification has resulted in at least one instance of identity theft. 

Hamilton College junior Adelaide Fuller told Tech Insider that someone has been posting sexually explicit "yaks" from the handle "AddyFuller," and that while she reported the impersonation, no one from the company had contacted her at the time of the interview.

"At the moment I don't feel comfortable thinking about going back to Hamilton without knowing who posted (the Yaks)," says Fuller, who is on spring break.

The app has been dogged with issues of racism, sexism, and bullying since its creation in 2014.

At South by Southwest Interactive, Yik-Yak co-founders Tyler Droll and Brooks Buffington said that they try to empower Yik-Yak communities to police themselves—but that they also have filters and reporting techniques.

"(Negativity) really is a tough problem to deal with," Buffington says. "On any form of social media, there's the great and the not so great side of things. Internally, we put a lot of time and effort into making sure that our systems are super robust and that the community has a lot of say over what's OK and what's not OK to say in the community" (Swant, AdWeek, 3/17; Malone Kircher, Tech Insider, 3/16). 

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