Yik Yak, Friendsy Come to 5Cs

There
are only two truths in life—no, not death and taxes: that college students are
always finding new ways to connect, and that everyone is trying to create
phone applications that will be the next download on everyone’s cell. Yik Yak and Friendsy are two new social
networking apps that may prove both truths.

On Yik Yak, anonymous users can post 200-character messages called yaks that are
displayed on a feed to all other users in a five-mile radius. Others can in
turn upvote or downvote these statuses, similar to the ‘Like’ function on Facebook. 

For those who remember the popular Claremont Confessions Facebook page, Yik Yak
may provoke a sense of déjà vu. But while the two share the incognito posting aspect,
Yik Yak has a more condensed and immediate format reminiscent of Twitter. Yik Yak also has no moderator to sift through
comments, though a yak is automatically deleted if it receives five downvotes. 

Kristi Sun SC ‘17 said the two platforms lend themselves to different posting approaches.

“For
Yik Yak, the goal is to be funny or witty in order to garner upvotes/likes whereas for Claremont Confessions it was more of a personal cathartic
experience for the confessor,” Sun said. 

Yik Yak’s on-campus representative, Meagan McIntyre SC ’17, sees the app as a useful tool for community-building as users can interact quickly without having to create accounts, send friend requests or operate through a moderator.

While the app debuted with an intended audience of college students, it quickly
spread to high schools and middle schools. Although intended to be a fun space, the app provided
an unintentional platform for serious bullying and has since been banned at several
high schools. The developers have since implemented restrictions on the app
wherever its GPS detects a high school or middle school. 

James Bilko CMC ’18 used Yik Yak before coming to Claremont this fall and
isn’t worried about bullying on the app as hurtful comments tend to be
deleted.

“I
know it has destroyed schools in the past, but at the 5Cs if you drop someone’s
actual name you get downvoted so fast,” Bilko said. 

Yik Yak co-founder and CEO Tyler Droll says that this self-regulating
aspect often starts appearing once a community becomes established. 

“On Yik Yak, things like your looks or group associations don’t matter,”
Droll said. “By eliminating identifiable characteristics, Yik Yak is
breaking down barriers that other social platforms erect.” 

If Yik Yak seeks to create a large but anonymous community, Friendsy aims to
connect college students and help them form closer relationships. 

New to the
5Cs, the app launched on Sept. 7.
Users choose how to connect with others by indicating on a profile
whether a romantic or friendly relationship is desired. If feelings are
reciprocated, a match is made—similar to Tinder. Unlike Yik Yak’s self-moderated communities, comments on Friendsy are filtered by a human moderator. 

Friendsy co-founder Michael Pinsky, a senior at Princeton University, said his
inspiration came from his friend Vaidhy Murti and the spontaneous way in which
they became friends. 

“We
realized things generally don’t work that way” Pinsky said. “We wanted to create
a way for students to more easily branch out of their social circles and take advantage
of all the amazing relationships they could be having at school. So far we’ve
done just that.”

Pinsky views
Friendsy’s 250 5C users as a success, emphasizing the difference in usage at larger
and smaller schools. He acknowledged that a large school may have
a more “hookup-y” culture but said that students at smaller schools seem to be
using Friendsy for connecting with people whom they may have seen but not met. 

While both apps show promise, only time will tell whether they are here to stay. 

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