Threats bring attention to Yik Yak policies

1 year 1 month 5 days ago December 14, 2015 Dec 14, 2015 Monday, December 14 2015 Monday, December 14, 2015 5:18:00 PM CST in News
By: Nick Yahl, KOMU 8 Reporter
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COLUMBIA - College students across the country use the social media app Yik Yak. The app allows people to make anonymous posts, and users within a mile and a half radius are able to see them.

Users are than able to vote up or vote down "yaks" all while staying anonymous.

However, the anonymous posts are causing a problem to a number of campuses across the nation. Users are posting anonymous threats of violence toward campuses similar to the incident at the University of Missouri in November.

The problem many don't realize is the app isn't so anonymous. Yik Yak has the ability to track users via their phone number, which you have to give upon registration, geographic location, and IP address.

If a threat is made, local law enforcement can request Yik Yak to give the information necessary to track a person of interest. 

Boone County assistant prosecuting attorney Brouck Jacobs explained the process. 

"By the time I receive the case the police have already made an arrest or they believe an arrest is necessary," Jacobs said. 

The app is designed and tailored for college students specifically, and you must be 18 years or older to use it. 

College campuses aren't the only ones dealing with issues with the social media app. 

Last year Rock Bridge High School in Columbia dealt with a threat made on the app in Sept., 2014. It forced the school to go on lockdown. The threat turned out to be false, but it brought attention to the Columbia Public School's system. 

In response, CPS banned the app from its campuses by installing a geo fence. The fence prohibits people from using the app on or near any of the school's campuses. 

Public relations director Michelle Baumstark explained why the school district decided to install the fence. 

"We take all of our threats extremely seriously, we investigate every single one of them. We take all the necessary precautions every time, whether it is valid or not valid. We take them all very seriously, so we have to have a response plan and a reaction any time there is a threat whether it be serious or not," Baumstark said. 

Baumstark said Yik Yak was very cooperative in working with the school system and added that Yik Yak is the only social media company that offers such ability. 

Yik Yak responded to the threats made to the University of Missouri campus in a blog post on its website. 

"It’s our hope that the range of discussion on MU’s campus can help to bring about positive resolution and a better understanding within the community. But there’s a point where discussion can go too far – and the threats that were posted on Yik Yak last night were both upsetting and completely unacceptable. Let’s not waste any words here: This sort of misbehavior is NOT what Yik Yak is to be used for. Period. It is not condoned by Yik Yak, and it violates our Terms of Service," Tyler Droll, Yik Yak CEO, said. 

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