The Yak is Back, Baby

Matthew Dennis
August 19, 2021

Allow me to take you back to the year 2014. Ellen DeGeneres is taking a historic selfie at The Oscars, everyone is listening to “Happy” by Pharrell Williams, Jimmy Fallon is about to take over the Tonight Show, and millions of millennials are downloading a new anonymous posting app called Yik Yak

If you don’t remember Yik Yak, it was/is a social media platform that was designed for people to voice their opinions anonymously without any judgement or fear of it getting traced back to them.

It has a feed very similar to Twitter, but users don’t have to follow anyone because all posts are populated based on your location. A Blaster that first wrote about the app when it came out in 2014 described it perfectly as “the social media gossip channel where privacy meets proximity.” This made the app super popular on college campuses where gossip already spreads like a wildfire. 

In its first year, the app became the ninth most downloaded social media app in the United States shortly after its launch with 1.8 million downloads, but after two years, millennials appeared to be done with the platform. In 2016, Yik Yak shrunk 75% compared to 2015, which ultimately led to the owners selling the intellectual property to Square for $1 million, equal to 0.25% of its peak valuation.

Along with millennials losing interest, the app also had major issues with cyberbullying and users making terrible public threats that you can read about in our previous blog, Yak is Wack

Now, the platform is back to give it another try…and by the looks of it, millennials are both excited and terrified to relive their Yik Yak days. 

As someone who was a college student while the app was at its peak, I had to give it a download just for the sake of nostalgia. For the most part, the platform has the same exact user experience: enter in your phone number, allow the app access to your location, then post and read Yaks from people within a five mile radius of you. The app also still gives you the option to upvote and downvote Yaks. If you gain enough upvotes, you can find yourself on the “Hot” page, but if you get five or more downvotes, your Yak will be automatically deleted, which I guess is a wacky self-governing experiment for a social media platform. 

Now for what you’ve all been waiting for: Here are some of my favorite Yaks that I’ve seen in the Philly area so far. 

Wholesome. The most popular Yak in the Philly area gives me hope! #VaxUpPhilly 

Liked this one mainly for the comment I saw under it: “They don’t wanna be here anyways, there’s no pictures.”

This takes me right back to 2015. #RIPHitchBOT 

*Deep breath* Retweet. 

Please. TikTok’s algorithm is too powerful. 

These examples are goofy and might make you want to download the app again, but make no mistake: this platform is still very toxic and contains a lot of harmful and downright crude posts. So please proceed with caution and hit the downvote button when necessary! 

While I find the renaissance of Yik Yak amusing, I don’t believe it will be here for long, which is sad, because I love the idea of anonymously posting to your local area. At its core I believe the concept could be used to connect people in their communities, give voices to those who don’t feel heard, and bring local issues to the spotlight. Sure, there might be Facebook groups for your neighborhood, but let’s be honest — the people who manage/post in those pages aren’t the most rational people on Earth. Maybe Yik Yak just needs a rebrand.

Are there any other apps (besides Vine) you think deserve a second chance?