A social media app popular in the South is making its way North. Students at Fairfield University say they started downloading Yik Yak about a week ago.
“Honestly, I just wanted to see what people were saying on it,” said freshman Tessa Murphy.
It’s billed as a virtual bulletin board that allows users to post comments anonymously within a mile and a half radius. Yik Yak constantly updates and users can vote posts up or down the message board.
Sophomore Rob Joyce said a lot of Fairfield students Yik Yak funny things.
“A lot of stuff about finals now because that’s what we’re dealing with now. Like how their GPAs are going down the toilet,” Joyce said.
But Yik Yak is getting flak from a lot of parents and school administrators across the nation and in Connecticut.
Staples High School in Westport struggled with Yik Yak bullying recently. Blogger Dan Woog writes that students posted sexist and racist comments to Yik Yak. He reports some girls left class crying.
Administrators at Fairfield Public Schools sent a letter home with parents in the last few days as well. It warned them about mean-spiritedness on Yik Yak and possible bomb threats.
Back at Fairfield University, Danielle Tullo worries about a different kind of safety.
“You may want to hurt yourself or do something awful, and you should never have to feel that way,” Tullo said. “It can go from race to sexuality to physicality. Someone’s weight. The way that they dress. Anything that can be targeted, is being targeted.”
She and friend Amanda McKelvey run a chapter of Her Campus, an online blog, at Fairfield. They often write about women’s issues at Fairfield U, but have recently been posting about Yik Yak. They say their peers use it non-stop.
“It starts in the mornings when they have 8-a.m. [classes], and it goes all night while they’re out partying or still in the library, things like that,” said McKelvey.
Fox CT spotted posts about food, frats and finals while on campus, but the Her Campus girls said a lot of content on the Fairfield Univeristy Yik Yak is mean. Because they fear their bullied peers might harm themselves from malicious postings, the juniors started a “Stop the Yak” campaign.
“You go on Yik Yak and you see the worst things written about you. Awful things. So why not use our words in a positive way? So we decided to do Cards for Kindness,” said Tullo.
They invited students to stop by a table at the campus community center and leave positive messages. Tullo and McKelvey also are taking to Twitter to encourage people to delete Yik Yak.
“You can like and dislike comments. So if people have an audience, they’re going to post. So if you can delete the app — my whole team has deleted it. We don’t look at it. We have no idea what’s being said, and it’s better that way,” said Tullo.
If that doesn’t work, maybe the fact that Yik Yak is hyper local will. Postings are restricted to a specific area.
“My hope is now that the summer is coming, that people will forget about it and when they come back in the fall it’s non-existent anymore,” said McKelvey.
Their “Stop the Yak” campaign is getting a bit of attention at other campuses, such as West Virginia University, but it probably won’t get rid of Yik Yak for good. Its founders just announced they received $1.5 million to expand the app.