I don’t really know what to make of this, but if you’re interested, for whatever reason, your favorite anonymous social media app YikYak is back in app stores in the US.

YikYak

Why? Who knows, but the app’s new proprietors think that the worldwide community “deserves a place to be genuine, a place to be equal, and a place to interact with others nearby.” Considering the epidemic, I’m assuming they’re looking for a way to capitalize on the fact that we’re all lot closer to home – however, even if that’s the case, releasing it at this point in the game seems a bit odd.

YikYak, in its original form, allows users to anonymously express their views, with other users within a 5-mile radius being able to see those comments and notes (referred to as ‘Yaks’) and either upvote them or respond to them with their own comments and notes. For example, if you want to express your enthusiasm for a local company, you may write an anonymous comment that others can then enjoy and interact with without the additional burden of associating your name and picture with the comment.

Because of this, it is an excellent venue for criticism and abuse, which is a major reason why it was first shut down.

Yik Yak was first launched in 2013, and at one point, was valued at more than $400 million, and had 200 million active users. But as with any anonymous platform, cyberbullies and trolls saw the opportunity to spread negative speech, while the company was also forced to backtrack on its anonymous approach by providing information to authorities when issued with warrants.

Eventually, Snapchat ate into YikYak’s market share, and the limited use case for app, combined with the noted issues with trolls, made it a less relevant consideration. Which finally then lead to its closure four years in.

Clearly, the lessons of those first years have forced a change in approach, with YikYak’s new website outlining various ‘guardrails’ and safety features to combat such concerns. But it seems like a moderation disaster waiting to happen, especially in the times of COVID misinformation and political division through society.

Exactly where does YikYak fit into the current social media landscape, and is it really necessary?

YikYak seems to believe that there is:

“Yik Yak contributes to the unification of local communities. College campuses, music festivals, cities, huge workplaces, and everywhere in between are transformed into friendly herds of fresh new ideas, jokes, views, and friends in an instant, no matter how large or small the gathering.”

Although I’m skeptical that it will be successful, if you’re interested in getting a sense of what people in your local community are interested in, you now have another alternative that may be worth looking into for yourself. Maybe.

YikYak V2 is presently available for iOS in the United States, with support for more nations and devices on the way.