What is Yik Yak? The Anonymous App Makes its Return

Words by
Josh Ruggles

MAY 09, 2023

What is Yik Yak? The Anonymous App Makes its Return

Yik Yak, the location-based, anonymous social media app has been re-launched after being shut down in 2017. The app was particularly popular on high school and college campuses when it launched in 2013, and was often used to share gossip, jokes, and other content related to school life.

Now that Yik Yak is making a comeback, and appears to have the same essential functionality, we will explore the dangers of the Yik Yak app and what parents and caregivers need to know to protect their children.

What Yik Yak?

Yik Yak is a social networking app that was launched in 2013 that gained success by allowing anonymous messaging to and from users within a 5-mile radius. It was popular among high school, and college students—often used to share gossip, jokes, and other content related to school life.

anonymous chatting on cellphone illustration

After an onslaught of criticism over issues with cyberbullying, and hate speech the app moved away from anonymity, which essentially removed the platform’s most popular feature, and Yik Yak users quickly lost interest, leading to its shut down in 2017. Now, after several years of dormancy, Yik Yak  re-launched under new ownership in 2021.  

Why is Yik Yak dangerous?

Despite it relaunching, Yik Yak still appears to be plagued by issues that initially made it a dangerous platform for children and teenagers. As it is again adopted by high school and college students, reports of the same issues that plagued YikYak before are resurfacing in similar fashion.

Cyberbullying on YikYak

The anonymity of Yik Yak continues to make it a breeding ground for cyberbullying. Despite attempts by the company to curb harmful speech, users continue to post hurtful comments, insults, and threats. This leads to a toxic and hostile environment that could be particularly damaging to vulnerable children and teenagers.

Sexual harassment on YikYak

Yik Yak is also used to share sexually explicit content and harass users based on their gender or sexual orientation. This can be particularly distressing for young users who may not have the tools or resources to deal with such behavior.

Threats of Violence

Even though the company has made clear that it can identify its users, Yik Yak has still been used to make threats of violence against individuals or groups within a specific geographic radius. This is particularly alarming for schools or other institutions that were targeted by such threats.

cellphone with harmful content illustration

Privacy Concerns

The anonymity of Yik Yak also continues to raise concerns about privacy. Users are able to post messages without providing much in the way of identifying information, which makes it harder to stop users that are intentionally out to harm others. 

What Parents and Caregivers Need to Know

To protect their children from the dangers of Yik Yak, parents and caregivers should take the following steps:

Educate your kids

Parents and caregivers should educate their children about the dangers of Yik Yak and other anonymous social networking apps. They should explain how these apps can be used for cyberbullying, harassment, and other negative behaviors. They should also encourage their children to speak up if they witness or experience such behavior.

Set clear boundaries

Parents and caregivers should set clear boundaries for their children’s online activities. They should establish rules around the use of anonymous social networking apps and discuss the consequences of violating those rules.

Get safe devices for your kids

Kid-safe devices are the most effective way to keep problematic apps like YikYak off your child’s device. Gabb phones and watches are a definitive want to ensure your kid isn’t knowingly, or unknowingly involving themselves with potentially harmful apps. Gabb devices don’t have access to the internet, the Apple App Store or Google Play Store—meaning you wont find concerning surprises relating to their screen time. 

hand holding safe cellphone illustration

Monitor their children’s online activities

If your kids have smart devices, it’s a good idea to monitor your child’s online activities and be aware of the apps they are using. Pay particular attention to anonymous social networking apps like Yik Yak and ask your kids about any concerning behavior they may have witnessed or experienced.

Encourage responsible use of technology

Finally, it’s important to encourage your kids and teens to use technology responsibly. They should teach them about the importance of respecting others online, avoiding harmful behavior, and protecting their own privacy and safety.

Tell us what you think

Have an idea of what we should talk about next, or want to dive into the conversation about Yik Yak? Leave a comment, and let’s keep these important conversations going.


  • Carmitia Roberts on Feb 13, 2024 09:27 PM

    My daughter is getting death threats on this app from students at her college. She is scared as well I am. I have reported this to the college president as well. This app is approving this by letting stay up. So many people have committed suicide cause cyber bullying. The names are anonymous so you don't know who is sending the threats!!!!

  • Gabb on Feb 21, 2024 05:46 PM

    This is awful to hear! It is so important to keep our kids safe and be aware of their online situations. Thank you for sharing Carmitia.

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