In 2014, I was a finishing my final semester of college when a new app called Yik Yak took over my campus.
Yik Yak is a digital message board that allows people within a certain geographic area to post anonymous comments that anyone can read. When I was a student, posts ranged from harmless inside jokes to very specific (think calling out students by name) comments about everything from sexual exploits to drunken campus parties.
At the time, almost everyone I knew was using the app. And it wasn’t just the 1,800 students at my small college. Yik Yak quickly picked up traction at universities and high schools across the country, and raised $60 million in venture capital and earned a valuation over $350 million.
But now, it looks like college students might be over the anonymous gossip app.
When Tech Insider surveyed college students across the country earlier this month to find out what apps are must-haves for today’s undergraduates, Yik Yak was nowhere to be found. While apps like Instagram and Snapchat topped the list, students don’t seem to be buzzing about Yik Yak like they were two years ago.
“It [Yik Yak] used to be all that, but now I feel like most app-based socialising in college happens on Tinder, ” one student explained.
In fact, several students listed Yik Yak among the apps they use least on their phones.
It’s not too surprising. As Tech Insider’s Alex Heath points out, Google searches for Yik Yak have been dropping consistently since November 2015 and the app doesn’t crack the top 50 most downloaded social networking apps in Apple’s App Store, according to App Annie. Yik Yak declined to tell Heath how many users it currently has, offering only that the app is available on over 2,000 campuses in a few English speaking countries.
Even if students are moving away from the app, it’s still made headlines in recent months, but that’s not necessarily a good thing. In September 2015, controversy arose on the app over the #BlackLivesMatter movement at the University of Delaware. And a month later at the University of Missouri, several “terrorist threats” were posted to the app.
Though a recent visit from Donald Trump to Liberty University in Virginia showed the app does provide some useful features, this doesn’t seem to be the case everywhere.
“Yik Yak used to be super popular, but it’s lost its charm,” one student told Tech Insider.
Earlier this week, Yik Yak rolled out a new feature that gives users the option to post using an account handle, rather than posting anonymously. All users will be required to create a handle, but posting with it with be optional. Still, the changes signify that Yik Yak knows it needs to make some changes to maintain its popularity.
And those changes can’t come fast enough.
“Yik Yak isn’t a thing at my school anymore,” a college student told TI. “It used to be popular, but now only freshmen use it.”
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