Yik Yak is Back: Loyola Students Find Their Herd

The app’s lack of boundaries permits users to post whatever they want — including revealing information about one another. Whether their “yaks” are well-intentioned or not, Yik Yak users experience no repercussions for content they post publicly.

Loyola students are finding their herd across campus by posting on the social media app Yik Yak. 

Yik Yak, an anonymous forum app released in 2013, is gaining popularity again — and after BeReal, it may be the next social media phenomenon across college campuses. 

The social media platform allows users to post up to 200 words for anyone in a five-mile radius, known as a “herd,” to view. Users within each herd can upvote and downvote “yaks” to signal agreement or disagreement over the content. 

While the app’s format resembles social media platforms like Twitter and Reddit, Yik Yak allows users to post anonymously with no handle or username attached to posts. “Yaks” can range from complaints about dining hall food to compliments for a stranger. The app was created to stimulate community authenticity and creativity through conversation without the constraint of societal labels, according to Yik Yak

The app’s lack of boundaries permits users to post whatever they want — including revealing information about one another. Whether their “yaks” are well-intentioned or not, Yik Yak users experience no repercussions for content they post publicly. 

Biology major Mark Gomez said he was essentially doxxed on Yik Yak, meaning his private information was posted publicly.

He said he downloaded the app after his friends saw recurring posts about a ‘green jacket guy’ and thought the posts were about him. Gomez said students recognized him for his moss green jacket ornamented with patches and users would post his campus whereabouts daily on the social media platform. 

“I had people showing up to my dorm, they posted my room number,” Gomez, 19, said. “I couldn’t go out for almost a week without people recognizing me in the dining halls or people coming up to me and asking me stuff.”

He said people would approach him on campus, compliment his jacket and ask where he got it from. 

The first-year student said he was eating breakfast in Simpson when his roommate texted him about a “yak” describing his exact meal. He said the user must have been close enough to him to notice his breakfast, and they chose to “yak” about him instead of approaching him for conversation. 

Gomez said he did not report this incident to the police since it eventually died down with time. 

The anonymous social media forum encourages users to use their best judgment as to whether “yaks” coincide with the app’s community guardrails through the upvote and downvote system. If a “yak” is viewed as unfunny or harmful, the Yik Yak community can decide to downvote the “yak” for it to be removed. When a “yak” receives five downvotes, it is automatically taken down and reviewed by the Yik Yak team. 

Once the team reviews downvoted or reported “yaks,” Yik Yak’s privacy policy permits the team to access user’s personal information provided to the app, such as a phone number or location, to take appropriate action as deemed necessary. 

“It’s almost like a herd mentality that goes along with the app with the recurring themes and posts,” said Gomez. 

Similar to Gomez, multimedia journalism major Megan Ybarra said she had a Yik Yak user post about her on the anonymous forum app. She said a classmate shared with her that someone posted about her star tattoo on her shoulder in a sexualizing manner.

“Somebody had posted ‘To the chick in Mertz with the star tattoo on her shoulder, please give me a chance, I’m on my knees,’” Ybarra, 18, said. 

The first-year said she downloaded the app in high school, but users on the app were inactive compared to those on Loyola’s campus. 

Ybarra said she finds enjoyment from the anonymous posts about social events and campus complaints but felt nervous after being identified on Yik Yak.

“It made me feel so paranoid for three days,” Ybarra said. “It was like weird, long-distance catcalling.” 

Loyola first-year Breydan Larnard said he believed the anonymous app can affect students’ self-image. He said he downloaded the app after a friend recommended it to him. 

“When I post, it’s like I sort of view it as I’m looking for validation,” the 18-year-old communication major said. “When I don’t get upvotes, it makes me think I’m not that funny.”

Political science major Kailani Moore shared similar insights. She said she’s more aware of how she presents herself to others because of the app’s lack of filters. 

Some Loyolans see the app as a way to connect with one another without embarrassment, hesitation or a filter. 

“I can see students being able to think and say what they want freely without any repercussions as something very gratifying,” Moore, 18, said. “Especially in this time of canceling people and calling each other out. Yik Yak has no real accountability there.”

However, when used in a light-hearted manner, Yik Yak allows students to vocalize late-night thoughts, share college complaints and engage in brief, witty banter. For example, one anonymous user close to Loyola posts daily weather information and suggestions for Ramblers on how to dress accordingly. 

Because of the spirited comments posted, students can find amusement in interacting on the app. Larnard said he finds humor and enjoyment from the app and views it as a nice de-stressor. He said he checks the app daily to find funny content.

Similarly, Moore said she checks Yik Yak while doing her usual social media rounds for humorous content as well. 

“I like the idea of knowing what people are talking about in my area. I think that’s a cool concept,” Moore said. “Everybody is in the same boat and doing the same thing, saying whatever.” 

Maura Green

Maura Green