Throughout the school day, students were downloading and using the app Yik Yak, which according to app’s description in the App Store was intended as, “a local bulletin board for your area by showing the most recent posts from other users around you.”
Yet students have been anonymously posting messages targeting other students as well as teachers, despite the app’s “Rules & Info” page stating that it is not to be used to bully or target other “yakers” and, “yakes should not join a herd until they are mature enough, so no one under college age should be on Yik Yak.”
The anonymous posts which have been described as “vulgar” by many students range from racist insults, to sexual comments, to random rumors going around school.
“I can see how some people might be amused by it, but i think that it is easy to be used as an outlet for cyber bullying,” Nathan Francis ’14 said. “It’s something that wasn’t intended for use in a high school. It is inappropriate to be used here.”
Yik Yak, which became available for download from the App Store on Nov. 5, 2013, is designed to prevent users from posting while at middle or high schools as the message, “It looks like you are using this at a high school or middle school which is not allowed. Sending and reading messages is disabled,” appears on the user’s screen when in Staples. However, many have been able to get around the app’s block while at Staples.
“I think that’s it’s petty and shallow that people are wasting time writing these mean comments about other people,” Katie Zhou ’14 said.
The entire school could be seen with their heads down scrolling through their Yik Yak feeds throughout the day. Griffin Thrush ’15, who has had a few posts written about him on Yik Yak, yelled across the library, “You can yak about me all you want [expletive]!” Thrush continued on to say that people had “crossed the line” with many of their posts and that it all “escalated way too quickly.”
Students and teachers were so upset by the app that Dodig sent an email to teachers urging them to ignore the app, and he also made a school-wide announcement. While many of the postings fall under the category of cyberbullying, Dodig said in his announcement that, “There’s basically nothing I can do about it. Number one it is anonymous – number two, it probably falls under free speech.”
In an interview, Dodig acknowledged that by telling people not to use the app it would be like “whistling in the wind.” However in his announcement he still encouraged students to avoid it. “I urge you, at least not to look on the site. Don’t go on the site,” he said. “I’ve heard about several people today … and they’re in tears. Don’t look at it. If you don’t see it, it won’t bother you.”