My name is Elizabeth and I’m a freshman in college. Last year, I attempted suicide. And while I was recovering, I was bullied and harassed on Yik Yak, an app that allows users to post anonymous comments about people near them. Yik Yak users told me I should kill myself.
So I started a petition calling for the app to be shut down, and as a result, last December I met with Yik Yak creators Tyler Droll and Brooks Buffington, who promised they were going to make the app safer for kids to use. I believed them and declared victory on my petition. But Tyler Droll and Brooks Buffington lied.
Not only have they not put in place any of the promised safeguards to prevent bullying or harassment, Tyler and Brooks have done something they promised me they would never do: they’ve updated the app to allow users to upload images. Think about that for a minute. Users can now anonymously upload any photo they like of you and tear you to pieces. And there’s nothing you can do because they are anonymous. This makes it almost impossible for the police, schools, or parents to do anything, but together we can change this.
Yik Yak is dangerous. It allows users to make threats with total impunity because there is no accountability with anonymity. College campuses have gone on lockdown after threats of violence were posted on Yik Yak. Gang rapes have been suggested by users on Yik Yak. And Yik Yak users have attacked others with racial and homophobic slurs because like all cowards, they hide and thrive in anonymity. We cannot allow anonymity to trump our safety and quality of life.
The safeguards I am asking to be implemented, and that Tyler and Brooks promised would be, but lied about, are simple: create automatic word filters to prevent hate speech like racial slurs from being used on the app, prevent users from posting a student’s full name, and capture and remove any violent threats posted. If Tyler Droll and Brooks Buffington choose not to implement the promised safeguards, I am ready to take this petition a step further and ask that Google Play and the Apple App Store remove the app from their stores.