The Daily Tar Heel
Printing news. Raising hell. Since 1893.
Thursday, June 20, 2024 Newsletters Latest print issue

We keep you informed.

Help us keep going. Donate Today.
The Daily Tar Heel

Yik Yak app's 'herd' expands at UNC

Yik Yak is a location-based social media app that shows the most recent posts from anonymous users in the area.

Brooks Buffington, chief operating officer for the app, said Auburn is the biggest campus they serve, but UNC is not far behind in terms of the percentage of students who have downloaded the app.

He said around 50 to 60 percent of people on campus have the app.

Buffington and Tyler Droll, the creators of the app, said the idea came to them while they were students at Furman University in South Carolina.

They said they noticed that most colleges had a few anonymous Twitter accounts with the ability to reach thousands of followers across campus.

“They have a lot of power in their voice,” said Droll, who is the app’s chief executive officer. “We thought there has to be more than five funny people on a campus. Why not give everyone the power to send a message and have it seen by the whole student body?”

Freshman Alex Banoczi said his favorite Yik Yak posts are the spontaneous ones.

“You get some people who shouldn’t be near social media in the state they’re in, and they post off-the-wall things that break the Yik Yak status quo,” he said.

While the app’s creators hope to see it evolve to offer a serious, on-the-ground look into places like Ferguson or the Gaza strip, its use at UNC sticks mainly to complaining or attempts at humor.

“I’ve seen a lot of people complaining about the construction on the quad and a lot of bashing N.C. State and talking about how much better we are, which is great,” freshman Sam Aldous said.

Droll said the app was first launched in November 2013 at Furman University and Wofford College but started to spread across the Southeast during spring 2014.

Buffington said the app is currently ranked in iTunes’s top five social networking apps.

Yik Yak is getting so popular, the app’s servers have crashed multiple times due to so much simultaneous use, Droll said. UNC’s campus has experienced multiple crashes during intense Yik Yak traffic times.

“We call it a champagne problem,” Droll said. “It’s a great problem to have, but we are working extremely hard to fix it.”

The app is not limited to college campuses.

“The nice thing about the app is you can use it anywhere,” Droll said. “You can use it at Disney World, a football arena, an airport — anywhere there is a collection of people.”

Droll said the app has been used for anything from spreading funny messages across campus to finding lost keys to borrowing a copy of “The Notebook.”

“The most important (use) is spreading news across the campus,” Droll said. “If the news is posted in Yik Yak, it will spread quicker because it is an open social network. You don’t have to be friends or followers.”

“The vision we want is for you to open in a location and instantly connect.”

To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.