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Exploring the risks of apps like Yik Yak: What you need to know

In 2013, two college students, Tyler Doll and Brooks Buffington created an app called Yik Yak. The location-based social media app allows users to post short messages that are visible to other users within a given geographic region. Following, these short messages are known as Yaks. Apps like Yik Yak offer anonymity and localized content, which many find intriguing.

They target young users who value their privacy and seek a platform to share their candid opinions and experiences without revealing their identity. Despite facing challenges, including shutting down in 2017, Yik Yak came back in 2021 with enhanced user experience while retaining its core values. Keep reading to know more about similar apps.

Why did Yik Yak get shut down?

Within no time after its launch, Yik Yak became the 9th most downloaded social media app in the US. At its peak, the business was valued between $350 and $400 million.

Unfortunately, in 2016, the Yik Yak shrunk to a shocking 75% compared to its previous year’s performance, and soon more than half of their staff were laid off. Not long after, the company was finally sold for just 1 million dollars.

How does an app go from being the 9th hit to being sold for just 0.25% of its peak valuation?

Well, the answer is cyberbullying. It played a significant role in Yik Yak getting shut down.

Yik Yak app

Toxic happenings behind its closure

Let’s be real. Anonymity means anyone can say whatever they wish, and people have things to get off their chests. There were threats of violence, name-calling, body shaming, etc. Sadly, YikYak was also used to spread toxic behaviour in high school.

In 2014, a school in Massachusetts was forced to evacuate its students twice after receiving bomb threats on Yik Yak.

In November 2014, two other high schools in California were put on lockdown after threats of violence.

The next year, Campus police at the University of Missouri arrested Hunter M. Park because of threats of violence against black students he published on the app. He pleaded guilty to making a terrorist threat, which resulted in a three-year suspended sentence, combined with five years probation.

Regardless, the founders didn’t keep shut on this. We learned that the founders took a proactive step to prevent this by implementing geo-fences. A feature that detects when the app is being used from within a high school and consequently prevents access.

But that was not enough. The toxicity continued to spread even more widely.

Due to the bullying and harassment on the app, many schools and school districts took action to get the app banned. A change.org petition for shutting down the app received 78,000 signatures. In 2017, after a continuous decline in users, the Yik Yak development team announced it would be shutting down soon.

Are there any apps like Yik Yak?

After the inevitable shut down of Yik Yak, some developers came up with alternatives for former users who enjoyed anonymous social interaction but needed a safer environment where they’re not bullied nor threatened.

And since then, we’ve seen the market for anonymous, location-based social apps continue to evolve.

Several relatively safe alternatives with similar functionalities to Yik Yak now become more popular, mainly catering to the needs of teenagers.

  • Nearby: As the name implies, this group encourages users to connect based on geographic proximity. It’s anonymous and caters to everyone looking to meet and connect with new people nearby.
  • Campus Chats: This social interaction app was designed specifically to meet the needs of anonymous interaction among young college students.
  • After School: This app caters to students’ needs. Only Students. While signing up, it asks users to input their school and year of study. To verify that, they login with Facebook next just to make sure they attend the said school.

6 apps like Yik Yak parents should watch out

We all enjoy discussing topics that interest us and stay informed about what’s going on around us, the younger generation is no exception. The bloom of social media apps has led to deeper and closer connections in the virtual world as well. But given the lack of social experience and maturity of young users, scammers and predators are beginning to focus their attention on them. Below are six apps parents should watch out for.


Spout is almost a duplication of Yik Yak, with nearly the same features. Like YikYak, posts can be upvoted and downvoted. A few differences exist, though. Spout has more active moderation than YikYak.

A few users have complained about being banned from the social media app for the most superficial reasons. If someone dislikes what you posted, they could report the post. And that could get you banned, depending on what you’ve posted.

So, we can say that Spout does not want a repeat of what happened to YikYak in 2017 and is taking active steps to minimize bullying and harassment.


Whisper is similar to Yik Yak in several ways. This alternative app encourages everyone to share their opinions, personal confessions, and thoughts without revealing their identity.

Moreover, Whisper is not designed to entertain comment threads where users reply to one another in sequence. Instead, posts can have replied in parallel. This prompts a wide sharing of opinions on a single topic.

Also, just like YikYak, Whisper also encourages local communication. Users location are tracked. And posts in the user’s location triggers notification, indicating that a local discussion is being discussed.


Jodel, an anonymous social interaction app that primarily targets college students and young adults. At the time of its launch, which was around the same time as Yik Yak, Jodel’s primary target was the European user base. The situation in YikYak caused a lot of Yakkers from English-speaking countries to migrate to Jodel.

Following this success, Jodel developers reached out to the Reddit community of Yik Yak to know how to make the app a positive and impact one. They received suggestions like better moderation for anti-bullying purposes and improved notification. These were taken into consideration and soon implemented.


This app is available to only college students as it requires an @university.edu.email to sign up. It allows students to create chatrooms based on their interests and local places.

What makes DormChat distinct is that it gives students the option to participate in these chatrooms anonymously or with their handles.

Like Yik Yak, Dormchats is locally based. So, whenever you move to a new area, you’re shown chatrooms within a 3-mile radius of your location.


An anonymous question board app, ASKfm, is only anonymous when you want to ask questions. Also, your profile is visible to people you share or connect with.

You can also search and connect with other users based on your own interests. Additionally, on the home page, you can see questions that have been asked alongside answers that have been provided anonymously by other users being displayed.


It categorizes posts into New, Hot, Nearby, and Community. Candid supports groups. Every group is created by users for like minds, and thoughts are shared anonymously. If, for some reason, you do not find a group that interests you, there’s an option to create one.

Dangers of anonymous chat apps like Yik Yak

Apps like Yik Yak provide a platform for many, especially younger people, to interact and share their opinions without fear of their identity being revealed. But these apps also come with significant risks that users and parents need to be aware of:

1. Spread of harmful content

Anonymous apps are usually breeding grounds for harmful post/content. Because of the anonymity factor, users can post hate speeches, misinformation, and whatever they wish without fear of consequences or worry of getting into trouble.

2. Predation

Some of these apps, like Yik Yak, have no age verification and parental control and can attract predators who pose as peers and exploit the lack of identifiable information to target and groom young users.

3. Cyberbullying

Anonymous apps means anyone threaten, harass or threaten other users without fear of consequences. And this can often lead to severe emotional and psychological damage to the victims.

4. Privacy Concerns

Believing their privacy is protected, some users get carried away and share sensitive information. However, since these apps are sometimes local-based, others might piece together the information shared and identify whoever is behind the screen. And this could lead to bullying and harassment.

Given the above risks and potential dangers, parents must take proactive measures to protect their kids against these dangers. 

How to help protect your kids and teens online?

With apps like Yik Yak, parents need to ensure their kids are not being bullied and that their teens are not hiding behind their screens to bully others.

1. The first step is open communication.

Communicate and educate your kids or teens on what to expect while using anonymous chat apps.

Also, teach them ways to handle cyberbullying and inappropriate content: seek help from the parents, ignore them, block the bully if possible.

Additionally, encouraging your child to openly talk about any issue they encounter, which helps you stay informed about their online activities, so you can provide help wherever it’s needed.

2. Monitor app usage

Regularly check the phone and apps they are accessing. This can include setting time limits on app usage and reviewing the posts and interactions they engage in. By actively participating in their online world, you can identify any potential concerns early on and protect your kids.

3. Using a parental control app

Parental control app like FlashGet Kids is used to remotely ensure a safer online social interaction for your children.

With features like live monitoring, screen mirroring and screen time management, FlashGet Kids allows you to monitor and manage your child’s online activities efficiently, ensuring your child has a safer and more controlled online environment. By leveraging its comprehensive features, you can give your children the freedom to explore while maintaining peace of mind about their safety.

Final thoughts

The past development of Yik Yak shows how much many individuals, especially young people, enjoy interacting anonymously and are curious to know what’s happening around them.

And as long as this curiosity and the need to protect their privacy exist, anonymous social interaction apps will continue to thrive. What’s clear is that risks and dangers also come with more people using these apps.

As parents, it becomes crucial to protect your loved ones from dangers that these apps might pose, like cyberbullying and harassment. And two of such ways is to stay involved in their online activities and use parental control app like FlashGet Kids.

Kidcaring, Chief Writer in FlashGet Kids.
She is dedicated to shaping parental control in the digital world. She is an experienced expert in the parenting industry and has engaged in reporting and writing different parental control apps. For the past five years, she has provided additional parental guides for the family and has contributed to changing parenting methods.

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