Yik Yak. Worth $400 million dollars. A sensation that only needed one year to spread across the nation like fire. An app that enables users to say whatever they want anonymously-reaching anyone within a 1.5 mile radius. Created by two 24 year old Furman grads, Tyler Droll and Brooks Buffington, specifically for college students.

Yik Yak. Known all over America for the troubles it has caused. But is it really all that bad?

A poor college student missed his flight and had to come back to school for the night. Finding himself locked out of his dorm, he Yik Yaked his situation, promptly receiving a reply from an upperclassman that he could crash there for the night. Benefits to being within a 1.5 mile radius is that whoever answers your need is right there.Screen shot 2015-11-19 at 2.46.06 PM

One of the founders, Brooks Buffington said, “Anonymity can be a really beautiful thing, and one of the reasons we made it anonymous is it gives people a blank slate to work from, so you’re not judged on your race or sexuality or gender. On Yik Yak you are purely judged on content you create.”

If a Yik Yak gets 5 dislikes it is permanently deleted from the site, and if your Yak is deleted too many times, you can be suspended from using the app. There are filters on Yik Yak now that prevent full names from being used and code words like “bomb” trigger a warning message to pop up asking if you’re sure you want tScreen shot 2015-11-19 at 2.16.51 PMo post. Also many middle and high schools have blocked the app use on their campus. The app has a 17+ age policy that can be enforced if parents create blocks on their children’s phones, but many children find their ways around it.

Yik Yak. Is it really as good as it’s founders make it out to be?

Sadly, this app meant to bring voice to the voiceless has sometimes been used as a gossip and cyber bully outlet. Gang rape threats, sexually explicit Yaks, and racial insults have been seen specifically on many campuses across the country. The fact that a person can post anonymously can allow them to be at their worst without anyone knowing.

One specific example is from a young woman who struggled with suicide, “My name is Elizabeth. I’m 18 years old, and earlier this year I tried to commit suicide. While still recovering, I started seeing messages about me on Yik Yak, anonymously telling me that I should kill myself. And I am not the only one.”

Yik Yak. Both good and bad. Reflecting the values of our culture: being heard no matter who you are. But what is heard can be hurtful and mean. But what is heard can be encouraging and life changing.