Yik Yak, the anonymous location-sensitive texting system that we noted in mid-March was being used heavily at Wellesley High School, has clearly now gotten the attention of administrators. Principal Andrew Keough is appealing to parents to discuss “the risks of participating in such a blog” and emphasize that anonymity is rarely very anonymous on the Internet.
He writes to parents that: “The most recent challenge we are facing at Wellesley High School in this regard is a phone app called, Yik Yak. Yik Yak serves as a giant anonymous chat room where individuals can log on and say whatever they want about whomever they want. As is often the case with situations like these, what starts out as funny and lighthearted humor can quickly spiral into hurtful and harmful behavior.”
Interestingly, the school has taken technological steps to try to block the app within school confines, though Keough acknowledges that doesn’t prevent students from using it elsewhere. A student group is also making the rounds to classrooms to encourage classmates to avoid the app, which can be used for making nice or not so nice comments. The creators of the app themselves have worked with Apple to try to prevent younger smartphone and tablet users from accessing the app.
Keough knows all too well the uncertainties of social media technology. His Twitter account got hit with a virus recently, but he’s now back in business, tweeting away.