Tech, Now + Beyond

Here’s the secret behind apps like Yik Yak and Whisper

Can these be more dangerous than non-anonymous social media apps?

Last time I checked, our deepest, darkest secrets are supposed to be shared between our closest friends―not to whole world. A text bubble with a simple background revealing something as ridiculous as naming your third toe Larry who hates Joe (toe number five) because Joe stole Pam (toe number four) away from him isn’t really necessary to know. Okay, that was pretty exaggerated, but do you get my point? 

 I know what you’re thinking: “Well, what if I want to share my deepest, darkest secrets? What if I like reading others’ deepest, darkest secrets? Who told you that you can have a say in all of this?” I get it, you’re addicted to the voyeurism. Whisper is to you as Twitter is to me. Nonetheless, these certain apps can get you in trouble no matter the number of restrictions and regulations companies set up.

It becomes a problem when cyberbullying sneaks into the party along with hacks and RSVPs that say “No” are being returned with a couple of government bans attached to it (R.I.P. Secret, shut down because CEO David Byttow didn’t like what his app turned into).

1. Whisper

Let’s starts out with Whisper. Now if you’re someone like me, who has only looked at this app at least twice then you probably don’t understand the excitement over it either―same for the rest of these types of apps. Well, when one wants to let something off their chest without revealing it’s them it comes in handy. And what else makes telling secrets better than a picture in the background? They can even message another user and stay anonymous. Of course, this will seem silly to some of us. Why not use a journal? Call a friend? To be fair, the company created Your Voice to help people deal with stress to bullying which does show they don’t support negative, offensive posts. 

 Yet, the posts from the app are being used for news stories by actual news publications, such as Buzzfeed (which can cause trouble like it did for Secret). The use for this app is going too far and doesn’t seem that safe for people who want to stay anonymous.

2. Yik Yak

A lot of young people are attracted to Yik Yak  because they can post pictures and texts for others in the same area, to see what others are up to. I first heard about this app was when a University of Missouri student used Yik Yak to threaten to “shoot every black person” he saw. Nice. You can probably tell right there I already had a bad first impression of the app. Wouldn’t you have that impression, too, if a company didn’t stop that post from being published for the world to see?

Another incident is when a Staples High School student in Westport, Connecticut used Yik Yak to attack other students and teachers. This pretty much sums up why you don’t hear about Yik Yak in high schools and middle schools (about 85 percent of high schools in the United States have this app banned). These two obvious aren’t the only incidents Yik Yak has been caught in and probably won’t be the last.

3. After School and Kandid

High schoolers lost Yik Yak, so they picked up After School and Kandid. Both aiming for students, Kandid is the child of Whisper and Yik Yak. You are able to see posts outside your school group and chat with others. After School stays within the school’s zone and doesn’t tolerate cyberbullying. They even have a system for students to talk about school and stress, similar to Whisper’s Your Voice.

If I was clueless about these types of apps, I’d pick After School because it doesn’t support bullying. However, who’s to say that unnecessary drama can’t start amidst the “fun?” It is high school after all. 

4. 23 Snaps

Honestly, I have never ever heard of this app before, and already the name is throwing me off. You already know it’s for pictures. Don’t want to flood your Facebook news feed, Twitter feed, Snapchat, etc. with your posts? The limit doesn’t exist here (haha, Mean Girls reference), so you can post a billion pictures if you want to and can keep it private to just your family and friends. My main fear of this is having your account hacked, and the next thing you know, all of your pictures have been leaked. 

5. Ask.fm

I have to admit, I had an account and used to think it wasn’t pointless. Public answers to anonymous questions. What’s wrong with a stranger asking my favorite color? Sharing my grade and school isn’t dangerous. Totally! My other friends would use it to and sometimes we would anonymously ask each other silly questions for fun. It wasn’t until some of the questions my friends would get gave me a gut feeling of “haha…this can get messy.” Not only the predictable school drama crap, but also the possibility that a grown adult miles away might ask very specific questions and I’d be naive enough to publicly answer.

No one spends thousands of dollars creating an app just to be a part of cyberbullying cases. Yet we should pressure them to fix these issues, since people don’t want to give up these forms of social media. Knowing that problems can show up no matter who it is, I’d recommend you stay away from these types of apps. The last thing you want is getting harassed online, but can’t tell who it is.