Lilian Min
April 02, 2015 12:04 pm

Oh, the innocent days when kids were only texting in class. As someone who’s had her flip phone confiscated for sending “rofl” between classes, I can’t even imagine the options students have these days to share their every thought and interaction: There’s at least Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, Tumblr, and of course, Yik Yak. Out of all of these popular social media networks, only Yik Yak is the only one that’s text-only, but perhaps not for long — the app is testing out photo uploads in college campuses, and might be expanding that option to its sizable student user base.

We’ve written about Yik Yak before, but as a refresher, it’s a location-based app that lets users post and up/down vote any thought through the app. Originally started on college campuses, it’s trickled down into grade school lingo and become a regular feature of the rumor cycle. Think Max is cheating off of Lauren during the big exam? Yak it, and see if anyone’s seen it happen before. Wonder if Mr. Adams is wearing the same shirt for the fourth day in a row? Yak it, and other students will chime in with their own sartorial observations.

If it sounds a little mean-spirited, that’s because while the app claims to be all fun and games (seriously, Yik Yak users have never met a pun they don’t adore), it’s still gossip at its core, and can also be used to upload direct threats and harassment. Yik Yak has banned itself from middle and high schools for a combination of those reasons, but of course, students can just take the conversation outside of the school. And for every hilarious story or sight that’ll now have a visual accompaniment, there’ll be a user trying to upload photos depicting illegal or explicit images. It’s a problem every other photo-based app still hasn’t solved, and now Yik Yak is joining the fray.

All that said, the app’s team is taking the photo rollout seriously. The feature’s only being tested on a handful of college campuses, and every photo goes under an actual person’s review before being posted. There are also some hard rules for photo uploads: No illegal content, no sexually explicit content, no camera roll uploads (photos must be taken inside the app), and no faces — making Yik Yak’s photo policy one of the strictest out of the major sharing networks.

With over 3.5 million users, Yik Yak isn’t going anywhere soon, and it makes business sense for the app to expand its user interactivity. The company doesn’t have any plans to expand the user base for the photo feature yet, but when it does, we hope their upload guidelines stay in place; they sure doesn’t need any more controversy.

(Image via.)

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