Yik Yak, is an anonymous location based social media platform akin to twitter in many aspects. In Recent years it has become extremely popular in American campus, and even more recently, in Australian Universities.
By hiding users identities, the app encourages free and open speech and allows users to see who’s ‘Yaking’ around them in a 2.4 km radius. Posts are up to 200 characters long and are moderated by up votes and down votes.
However, in the United States, the freedom and openness has lead to several controversies. The app has been linked to multiple cases of bulling, slanderous gossip, sexual harassment and even in one case; terrorist threats. So that the bulling and harassment could not continue, high schools across America had the app Geo-Fenced so that it could not be used by it’s students.
These stories of reports however have only been coming out of the United States. Yik Yak in Australia has yet to prove itself. Whether it’s more progressed than “college immaturity” or it’s at par for the course.
This is the basis for my research project, my aim is to uncover the difference in Australian Yaks and Yakkers to find out why something that has cause so much controversy in America, hasn’t lifted an eyebrow in Australia.
Do Australian Yakkers just have a different etiquette when it comes to anonymous free speech? Or is it perhaps that Australia has the same issues with bulling, harassment but its simply now covered in the media?
To begin to unpack this issue, I intend to identify those who regularly use Yik Yak on the University of Wollongong campus’ by using questionnaires to collect information and opinions regarding the use of the application in Australia. I want to identify how the limitations and affordances of Yik Yak change how people interact with it. The questionnaire will address anonymity, vulgarity and the use of location based views.
Besides this, I will be monitoring the local Yaks each day to identify the range of behavior that is deemed acceptable on the UOW campus.
Very little has been published about Yik Yak in Australian campus’. This research project aims to give the Australian users an identity despite the anonymity. I hope to fairly represent the Yakkers of UOW and analyses the disparity (Or similarity) between them and the reports from the United states.
Daily Mail. 2014. Anonymous ‘gossip app’ Yik Yak blamed for cyberbullying outbreak in schools as firm behind it forced to BAN it from being opened on school grounds k. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2615231/Anoynmous-app-Yik-Yak-blamed-bullying-schools-amid-calls-firm-trying-way-ban-children-using-it.html. [Accessed 25 March 16].
GIZMODO. 2014. Yik Yak Wants To Be More Than Your Kid’s Favourite Shit-Talking App. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.gizmodo.com.au/2014/10/yik-yak-wants-to-be-more-than-your-kids-favourite-shit-talking-app/. [Accessed 25 March 16].
The guardian. 2014. Yik Yak: the anonymous app taking US college campuses by storm. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/oct/21/yik-yak-anonymous-app-college-campus-whisper-secret. [Accessed 24 March 16].
Institute for Culture and Society – University of Western Sydney.. 2016. Yik Yak, Young People – and You!. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.uws.edu.au/ics/news_and_media/blog/yik_yak,_young_people_and_you!. [Accessed 25 March 16].
The Sydney Morning Herald. 2015. Yik Yak: Anonymous apps unleash the dark side of free speech on campuses. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/comment/yik-yak-anonymous-apps-unleash-the-dark-side-of-free-speech-on-campuses-20150528-ghbi5u.html. [Accessed 24 March 16].