March 10, 2015
Posted by Usha Rodrigues

In two weeks UGA's Thinc. Week will kick off with YikYak Day.  Professors, you haven't heard of YikYak?  Your students have.  According to the NYT YikYak is:

a social media network, only without user profiles. It does not sort messages according to friends or followers but by geographic location or, in many cases, by university. Only posts within a 1.5-mile radius appear, making Yik Yak well suited to college campuses. Think of it as a virtual community bulletin board — or maybe a virtual bathroom wall at the student union. It has become the go-to social feed for college students across the country to commiserate about finals, to find a party or to crack a joke about a rival school.

 I first heard about YikYak by way of a bomb threat on UGA's campus that resulted in evacuation of a campus building.  Anonymous speech can lead to abuse pretty quickly, as the NYT piece points out.  So why Yik Yak?  Here's the origin story, again by way of NYT:

Yik Yak was created in late 2013 by Tyler Droll and Brooks Buffington, fraternity brothers who had recently graduated from Furman University in South Carolina. Mr. Droll majored in information technology and Mr. Buffington in accounting. Both 24, they came up with the idea after realizing that there were only a handful of popular Twitter accounts at Furman, almost all belonging to prominent students, like athletes. With Yik Yak, they say, they hoped to create a more democratic social media network, one where users didn’t need a large number of followers or friends to have their posts read widely.

“We thought, ‘Why can’t we level the playing field and connect everyone?’ ” said Mr. Droll, who withdrew from medical school a week before classes started to focus on the app.

“When we made this app, we really made it for the disenfranchised,” Mr. Buffington added.

Yik Yak is a denizen of the Atlanta Tech Village (about which I blogged last year). I'm interested to hear what the YikYak founders have to say here in Athens on March 23rd.

Update: A doctoral student says stop the professorial hand-wringing, already.

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