Should anonymous social media sources still be produced and used?

The recent trend in social media is the use of anonymity to protect one’s identity when posting. Certain apps, like Yik Yak, encourage the use of anonymous postings on their social media platforms. The draw of posting like this is it allows users to share their personal beliefs without having their names associated with the idea; however, this can lead to negative impacts – an  increase in cyber bullying. In the case of anonymous social media, is it worth the anonymity if it increases the risks for some users to be persecuted by others?

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According to the article from The Telegraph, “Yik Yak is an app where users in the same 5-mile radius can write anonymous posts, which are then up or down voted by other users.” Yik Yak is common among college students and is seen as a quick way to connect students to one another. The University of Maryland currently is on Yik Yak and has many people posting and commenting on the site. While on a large college campus, Yik Yak can serve as a way to connect students together, but in some locations it serves as another outlet for bullying. The article from The Telegraph sites the specific case of a girl named Elizabeth Long who was bullied on the app after attempting to commit suicide. The fact that the app was anonymous made it difficult to find her bully and led her to create a petition advocating for the greater censorship of posts on the app. Despite her efforts to raise awareness about the negative aspects of the app, it is still rapidly gaining popularity.

Personally, I had never heard of Yik Yak until I stepped foot on the University of Maryland’s campus, and soon after downloading the app, I found it as a useful tool for connecting to others on campus. Many people  post issues, questions, concerns, or just funny observations they have made while on campus.  As a freshman, I find the app to be a hub of information for those of us who are still trying to learn about campus. I can also see the negative aspects of Yik Yak, especially the anonymity.  Many people are trying to find someone to “hook up” with through the app; this could be dangerous!  Yik Yak is a great app to find out what is happening on a college campus, but there are several drawbacks that counter-balance the usefulness of the app.

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