Controversial app Yik Yak is becoming less anonymous

Yik Yak is an app that functions like an
anonymous, location-based Twitter, and has been dogged by controversy since its inception.
Some colleges have tried to ban it, alleging that its anonymity facilitates hate speech. But founders Tyler Droll and Stephen “Brooks” Buffington insist that the app’s main purpose is building a local community, and that a new update shows a push in that direction.

On Tuesday, Yik Yak rolled out unique handles for its users. These handles are similar to those on Twitter: each user will only be able to have one, but they can change it if they so wish. Users will also have the option to remove their handle from a specific post if they want it to be completely anonymous.

Buffington says the handles are meant to allow people to adopt a specific persona on the app, or even put their real name on there if they wish. This will let people form the kind of connections that avid commenters do on message boards or media websites.

As to the issue of people impersonating others on the app, the founders say they will use a third-party takedown solution that they describe as “industry standard.”

Though these handles are optional, and don’t have to be tied to a name, their introduction shows that Yik Yak is experimenting with moving away from complete anonymity.

Yik Yak wants to be “location” first and “anonymity” second, Droll says. If one element has to give, it is anonymity.

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