Yik Yak, the Anonymous App that Tested Free Speech, is Back

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The Yik Yak app in the Google Play store, back in 2014. A new version is only available currently in the Apple app store in the U.S.
The Yik Yak app in the Google Play store, back in 2014. A new version is only available currently in the Apple app store in the U.S. (MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

After a four-year break, Yik Yak, the once-popular anonymous messaging app that was blamed for cyberbullying and hate speech, is back. This time, the new owners are promising to take a stronger stance against abuse.

The new owners of the company purchased the rights to redevelop the location-based app from its original maker in February, calling it "the same Yik Yak experience millions knew and loved."

"We're bringing Yik Yak back because we believe the global community deserves a place to be authentic, a place to be equal, and a place to connect with people nearby," the new owners said on the company's website on Monday.

Yik Yak was popular on campus

Launched in 2013, Yik Yak swept the nation as it became popular across college campuses as well as middle schools and high schools.

The app allows users to post messages anonymously on its platform within a 5-mile radius of their location. The messages could be up-voted or down-voted by users.

Sponsored

During the height of its popularity, the company raised $73 million and was once valued at around $400 million in 2014, according to TechCrunch.

In April 2017, the company announced the app would be shutting down following a decline in its engagement from users—by the end of 2016, user downloads had dropped 76% in comparison to 2015.

The new company takes a strong stance against hate speech and bullying

Before shutting down in 2017, Yik Yak was the subject of hate speech and cyberbullying across high school and college campuses.

But with the newly launched app, owners say they're committed to taking a strong stance against threats and other abuse.

"On the new Yik Yak, it's against the Community Guardrails to post bullying messages or use hate speech, make threats, or share anyone's private information," the company says on its website.

It says if a user bullies another person, uses hate speech, makes a threat, or in any way seriously violates the company's policies, they could be immediately banned from Yik Yak.

"We're committed to making Yik Yak a fun place free of bullying, threats, and all sort of negativity," the company said.

The app's return drew mixed responses on Twitter, with some people worried that it would prompt more "toxicity in the world" and others joking about being able to complain anonymously about college life.

The new Yik Yak is currently only available to iOS users to download in the U.S., but the company says it's planning to expand to more countries and devices in the near future.

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