The Yak is Back… And Better


Courtesy of Jackie Thomas

YikYak has become an important part of campus culture.

Zoë Kim, Staff Writer

Unless you’re living under a rock, you’ve heard of YikYak. This past year, it has taken over Villanova’s campus and there is no question as to why. Whenever there’s a story on campus, you can always find an opinion of it on YikYak.  Not only has it become a way to put off work, but it has also become an integral part of Villanova’s student culture.

YikYak is a service that brings you and your herd, those within a 5-mile radius of you, together to share random thoughts as well as discover what is happening in the community. Students can yak whatever their hearts desire. It could be one’s deepest thoughts or an absurd, spontaneous observation. And within seconds, it can receive an “upvote” or “downvote” from the herd.

No other service lets one “yak” without tracing it back to a person, which is part of the joy of it all. In other words, YikYak is just like Twitter but completely anonymous, giving students a bizarre but liberating experience to voice their thoughts.

For many first-years, YikYak is a roadway to understanding the Villanova culture. It can be difficult to find one’s place in the first and second months here, but first-years did it with the help of YikYak. One can find out what’s happening around campus within seconds. If one is not sure if there is a big game this week or what the dining hall is serving tonight, ask YikYak – you would be surprised by how many people will answer.

YikYak can also be a way to express oneself. Every day, there are yaks from students who are nervous about their presentations, upset with their friends or who can’t wait for the weekend. YikYak gives you a greater perspective of what other students around you reflect on. But where did YikYak come from?

YikYak was created in 2013 by Furman University graduates Tyler Droll and Brooks Buffington. It was a hit and campuses around America became obsessed with it- for a reason. YikYak was different from any other service out there, so by no surprise, it was said to be worth $400 million. But its immediate success declined in early 2017.

YikYak started out as a place to promote creativity and community, but soon became a source of bullying and threats. The University of Missouri found YikYak messages targeting Black students. Though the threats were not acted upon, it raised the question of whether YikYak should have a place on college campuses.

The MU Police were brought in, but due to YikYak’s anonymity, they weren’t able to trace it back to any student. Similar incidents occurred on college campuses around the country. Universities tried banning students from it, and thousands of officials spoke out against it. For better or for worse, YikYak was over, bought by Square, a new company, for only $1 million.

Four years later, the Yak is back. Before its rebirth, Square made sure that YikYak would foster a welcoming and non-threatening community.

When asked why it brought back the app, Square said, “We’re bringing YikYak back because we believe the global community deserves a place to be authentic, a place to be equal and a place to connect with people nearby.”

Square has also released a statement saying that it does not tolerate hate speech and bullying to any degree. But how will Square truly be able to prevent any negative use of YikYak, especially given that it is an anonymous app?

There is no way for Square to tighten the reins when it comes to what students yak. While it could flag certain language and words or limit the number of yaks one can post, if they were to do this, YikYak would lose its appeal to students.

We need to be careful when it comes to YikYak. There is no doubt that YikYak can be used for bullying, but it also invites a sense of community.

There is no better herd than the one I found at Villanova. The jokes are what bring us together. Where else could we, as a student body, express our admiration for Holy Grounds and the 80’s hits that the Connelly Center plays on repeat?