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Yik Yak Blocked at 85 Percent of Nation's High Schools

Cyberbullying in Illinois and bomb threats in California prompt phone app maker to put up digital barriers around high schools and middle schools.

Orange County Sheriff's deputies conduct a bomb sweep at San Clemente High School earlier this month. | Patch photo credit: Penny Arévalo.
Orange County Sheriff's deputies conduct a bomb sweep at San Clemente High School earlier this month. | Patch photo credit: Penny Arévalo.

By Penny Arévalo

The makers Yik Yak, a smartphone app blocked in Chicago earlier this month, have extended the block to many of the nation's high schools and middle schools following a bomb scare at a California high school.

Children are not ready for the responsibility of anonymity, the makers of Yik Yak have concluded.

Orange County Sheriff’s deputies were monitoring the increasingly popular social media app called Yik Yak, which allows users to post anonymously, not even requiring email accounts to sign in, on March 6 when they discovered the bomb threat against San Clemente High.

The school was immediately put on lockdown mode until bomb-sniffing dogs and deputies searched the campus and gave the all-clear.

In Illinois, the app was being used to cyber-bully students. Yik Yak was being used to verbally abuse students and faculty at Lake Forest High School, and the principal warned parents in an email, calling the app "vicious."

Other schools around the country have had similar problems.

Yik Yak works with the GPS in a phone to set up geographical boundaries where users can post pretty much anything they want. According to a blog in the Huffington Post by local parent Diana Graber, Yik Yak officials contacted a Vermont company called Maponics to help place "geo-fences," or virtual walls, around schools, thus blocking kids from using the app.

Yik Yak co-founder Tyler Droll confirmed the app is no longer available at 85 percent of the country’s middle and high schools.

For the remaining 15 percent, “if kids start using it at a school we have not blocked yet, then the best option is for someone to contact us and we will block it as soon as possible,” Droll told Patch. 

Rigoberto infante March 28, 2014 at 10:36 AM
Whats wrong with freedom of speech? and setting up a Virtual walls is not going to stop teens from using the app. spoofing the gps and using school wifi can bypass the gps. teens will often find a way to get around these so called walls. even if it violates freedom of speech.
cindy March 28, 2014 at 12:20 PM
So, the app is vicious? LOL, we are personifying an app! That is the problem with society today. Projecting blame on to other things and not on the offender. Ridiculous. We have already banned playground equipment, etc... My son is not allowed to swing on the swings at preschool because he might hit someone with his feet, (WHAT!) and my daughter is not allowed to play tag at her school because someone might push to hard(SERIOUSLY?) This is getting ridiculous people!!!
David Greenberg March 28, 2014 at 12:46 PM
"Virtual walls"? Geezus... GPS spoofing is but one way around the geofence. The other is simply walking up to someone and saying "HEY *(&*(^^#&*(Y($*() !!!!!" Or use a different app created with a bogus email account... *sigh*. Sticks and stones people... sticks and stones... Walk it off and move on...
Stu Pidasso March 28, 2014 at 01:37 PM
thats for sure, this country is turning into a bunch of pansies!!
Stu Pidasso March 28, 2014 at 01:39 PM
my kid tells me that his buddy who lives over in Europe has a math book that shows a drawing of an obese American eating a Cheeseburger with Plumbers Ass , as if we are a bunch of slobs over here!!! Is that nice or what???

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