YikYak

Things We’ve Written About That Are No Longer ‘Things’

The other day I saw this tweet and thought “Huh, I did actually forget about the whole clown thing from last year”:

 

In that vein, I got to thinking about some of the other things that I’ve forgotten about over the past few years. We stay on top of the trends, new apps and websites we think are cool or could become be a big deal, but that doesn’t always mean those things have staying power. Thanks to @imchip’s tweet, I dug through some of our older blog posts to take a look at some of the apps that have been left behind:

Yik-Yak. This was a blog post I’d written almost 3 years ago now, and I’d completely forgotten about how FUN this app was. An anonymous social network that allowed you to post an update and up-/down-vote others within a certain location, it was pretty hilarious. The app wasn’t really popular in rural Maine so I only ever saw maybe 4 yaks that summer when I wasn’t traveling. However, Yik-Yak was also an example of social media turning ugly after some Yakkers used the platform for cyberbulling and making bomb threats. A couple months ago, the company announced that they would be no more. Although I admittedly haven’t paid attention to the app in a long time, I’m still a bit sad to see it go.

Meerkat. In 2015 live video was a budding enterprise and we saw the launch of Meerkat and Periscope. But as they say, “There can be only one.” Periscope has since been acquired by Twitter and lives on. Meerkat, on the other hand, was declared dead last fall. Meerkat’s parent company, Live On Air, said they learned from the experience and have developed the Houseparty group video chat app. In the meantime, live video is now widely available through Periscope, Facebook, and Instagram.

Pokémon Go. Pokémon Go was launched around the time of the Great Clown Scare of 2016. It was an overnight sensation. But a few months later, Pokémon Go dropped almost totally out of my newsfeeds, social media news stories and blog posts. But is Pokémon Go dead? Not by a long shot. Squirtles, Zubats, Psyducks and their ilk may make a splash again this summer as the company plans a big update. Meanwhile, Pokémon Go remains popular with certain folks but is no longer considered a “viral among the masses” app.

Peeple. Back in the fall of 2015, John brought Peeple to our attention.  Advertised as “Yelp for People,” there was a lot of backlash at the concept, pre-launch. As a result, post-launch Peeple was declared “boring” because the creators actually took people’s feedback into consideration and ended up with a watered down version of the app. While Peeple is still in existence, it hasn’t quite lived up to the hype.

Prisma. Like Peeple, Prisma is still an active app, but I think it’s become more of a niche thing than a “used among the masses” thing. Something else that I found interesting: Other apps like Microsoft Pix are starting to replicate the artistic photo effects of Prisma, meaning there’s more competition in the market. Again, I don’t necessarily think Prisma is dead or dying, it just seems to have plateaued.

And finally, something that used to be a thing but is no more — MySpaceBack in 2007, I was on MySpace for a hot second before getting freaked out by the whole thing and deleting it (only to have my friends convince me to get Facebook the next year). MySpace had a good run and has exchanged hands a couple times over the past couple decades (technically it does still exist). Perhaps the coolest thing I’ve seen in the post-MySpace news is that Tom, the dude everyone had to be friends with, was able to retire very early and spends his days traveling around the world taking photos (source).

Kassie is a distance runner and a distance reader really. She lives in Ellsworth Maine and, while she might be quiet when you meet her, will throw out something witty when you least expect it.

Anonymous Social Networks 101

The internet began as an anonymous place. Chat rooms asked us ‘a/s/l’ and I’m sure I am not the only one who pretended to be a completely different age, sex, and location than I was. There was something about trying on a new identity.

As social networks using our real names came into play, it was harder to be anonymous. Your potential employer or your mom could be looking at what you just said or shared.

It was only a matter of time before the internet cycled back, recoiled from too much sharing. Apps and websites where you can be anonymous have come back into popularity.

We’ve previously blogged about YikYak but there are a couple of other anonymous sites to know about:

Whisper

So this network combines anonymous with location data. So you can share your secret thought and other people can like or comment… but you can also see other people’s secrets that are near you (1 mile radius, 5 mile radius, etc.) The secrets range from silly to serious:

whisperconfession1

whisperconfession2Something about having the image with the thought makes them stand out a bit, nice to read on a mobile device. And since this is an app, that makes sense.

 

Reddit

Reddit is a bit of a longer form social network with writing and links. You can see what’s trending overall by going to the homepage:

reddit-homepage
The more interesting part of Reddit though are the subreddits. For example, you can join a community about Game of Thrones (at www.reddit.com/r/gameofthrones) and discuss you interest in this show in detail with people all over the world.

Clearly works well if you are more verbose, or want to share a link and get comments on it.

Some people chose to have an active anonymous account while others use ‘throwaway’ accounts for a one time confession.

Anonymous social networks are similar to regular social networks:

  • Typically ordered by most recently updated content
  • Can participate on your phone only for some, others you can access on your computer too
  • You can like/heart/upvote things that you like to show support
  • You can leave comments for more detailed feedback.

Of course, sometimes anonymity brings out the worst in people in the way of cyberbullying but honestly, in these communities, I have found mostly support for my ideas too weird or dark to share on regular networks. (I know it’s sad but I used to be a little nervous to go on Reddit but, much like staying away from the seedy streets in your city, is a nice place for the most part of you don’t go searching for the bad stuff.)

As we figure out what is and isn’t acceptable to share with our real life friends on social media, I see the popularity of these sites growing. I personally love Reddit because there’s no real ads, no messaging, and I can just browse information… and contribute when I feel like. Personally I appreciate that because of the internet, there is a lid for every pot.

Nicole runs Breaking Even Communications, an internet marketing company in Bar Harbor Maine. When she’s not online, she enjoys walking her short dog, cooking with bacon, and trying to be outdoorsy in Acadia National Park.

Ride the Yak: Why YikYak is Possibly My New Favorite App

I’m generally accustomed to being the “in-the-know” person in my circle of peeps (unless we’re talking Twitter or Seinfeld references), but during our recent Boston trip, our friend Matt totally won the “Have you heard about ______?” game. Matt introduced Nicole and I to a little app called Yik Yak. It is AWESOME, and kind of addictive. It follows SnapChat’s model of “leave no trace,” which people seem to find more and more appealing lately.

In hindsight, my brother definitely already tried explaining Yik Yak to me while he was at Bowdoin (college students are the target demographic, and the app is most popular on the East Coast), but, I clearly was only half-listening.

How does Yik Yak work? Yik Yak is more or less the social media love-child of Twitter and Whisper. You can post an update of up to 200 characters, and its completely anonymous. You can’t upload any pictures, so its an all-text app. It also uses your location, so you can only see yaks (“yaks” are to Yik-Yak what tweets are to Twitter) that’ve been sent out within a 5 mile radius. If you’re in a city, there’s a LOT of material coming in throughout the day. If you’re in a more rural area, it’s unfortunately less exciting. Especially when no one else has YikYak.

This is what YikYak looks like from my parents' home in Milbridge.

This is what YikYak looks like from my parents’ home in Milbridge.

As one might imagine, coming back from an introduction to this app in Boston and then traveling back to Trenton/Bar Harbor/Milbridge, Maine was a bit disappointing. We’ve probably seen the same 3 Yaks over the course of the month (most of them from visiting people complaining that no one here uses Yik Yak). I’m crossing my fingers and hoping that this changes in the next month or so, because it’s a great source of mindless amusement.

Seagull_Yak

To interact with others on YikYak, you can upvote, downvote and/or reply to something they’ve written (which also happens anonymously). A neat self-monitoring tool of YikYak is that if a post gets a certain amount of downvotes, it will disappear entirely (so if someone posts something especially inflammatory, other people can downvote it to make it go away). And, as you might imagine, people tend to hide behind the safety of anonymity to say/do some negative things.

The Dark Side:

The intended age for Yik Yak use is 17 and older, but as you can imagine, that doesn’t keep out the younger kids. These kiddos (and the college students, I’d guess) are using it for cyberbullying purposes, and apparently bomb threats. Despite being an anonymous post, there are ways to trace it back to a certain phone when the content is a clear threat to others.

Instead of knocking the app itself, or using our energy to forbid kids to use social media, doesn’t it make more sense to educate them about respecting each other? Just because you CAN be mean to someone (with no consequences) doesn’t mean you should. And there’s really no age limit on that philosophy.

 

Sad, but true.

Sad, but true.

 

 

Kassie is a distance runner and a distance reader really. She lives in Ellsworth Maine and, while she might be quiet when you meet her, will throw out something witty when you least expect it.