The revival of the app YikYak in 2021 has allowed individuals to anonymously post about their communities, including those at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. However, even on the app that heralds anonymity as it’s claim to fame, no one is truly anonymous.

According to a search warrant filed in the Lancaster County District Court, YikYak moderators alerted the UNL Police Department on Sept. 6 of a potential threat to Chancellor Ronnie Green. The threats were posted by a UNL freshman who is currently under investigation for allegedly making terroristic threats, according to an article in the Lincoln Journal Star. 

YikYak moderators will look through posts and take them down when necessary if they violate community guidelines, according to the YikYak Community Guardrails

In most cases, posts we catch that violate the Community Guardrails will simply be removed,” the policy reads. “In some cases where the category of violation is serious, users will be banned via our one-strike-and-you’re-out policy. These serious categories of violation are: using real names inappropriately, using Yik Yak to solicit dangerous goods or services, bullying, threatening and breaking federal or local laws.” 

The anonymity of the app might not be as strong as students think, since any post they make can be traced back to the phone number they added when creating their YikYak account, according to YikYak’s Privacy Policy

“All of the different apps have different levels of anonymity,” UNLPD Assistant Chief Marty Fehringer said. “People on this app feel as though they have a little bit more anonymity, but as you can tell, no one has complete anonymity when it comes to the comments they make.” 

Fehringer said that when a student posts a comment on an app, if it can be construed as elements of crime and there is probable cause, then there will be consequences. 

“Don’t put anything out there that you wouldn’t [want] on the front page of the newspaper with your name associated with it,” Fehringer said. 

According to YikYak, students who use the app can post and upvote and downvote others' comments, letting anyone within a 5-mile radius interact.  

The upvote and downvote system is a way to make YikYak a constructive venue for free and productive speech, according to its guardrails. 

Dawsyn Barnhill, a sophomore international business major, said he doesn’t have YikYak, but he does believe it’s funny. 

“There’s definitely some enjoyable things there, like the memes that come out of it,” Barnhill said. 

On the other hand, Isabel Bohrer, a graduate student in music theory, said that she had the app when it first came out in 2013 but decided not to rejoin the YikYak community when it came back in 2021. 

The creators of YikYak talked about why they added a username in an article for The Verge, hoping to minimize bullying and harassment on the platform, back in 2016. 

“I had it when it first rolled out and it was really funny, and then it dropped off the cliff once they added usernames to it and it was no longer anonymous and just going back, it's not going to be the same,” Bohrer said. “I don't have it right now for nostalgia, but I totally support it.” 


News Reporter and Copy Edtor