Yik Yak, the new social app promoted as a local billboard, has been showing up in crime news here and across the country lately.
- In Yorktown, a 15-year-old high school student was arrested Sept. 16 after police say he posted that the "school would explode." He was charged with juvenile delinquency.
- In Suffolk County, a 15-year-old high school student was arrested and charged with making a terrorist threat Sept. 16 after police say he posted that there would be a shooting at the school and that he'd "blow it up."
- At Colgate University in central New York this week, students held a campus sit-in for three days to protest racist messages left on Yik Yak and other social media sites.
- In Hattiesburg, Mississippi, a 20-year-old university student was arrested Mondayafter police say he posted a threatening message on Yik Yak that "the red will flow." If convicted, he faces five years in prison.
- In Vermont, a college president tried to block the app on campus because he says it was being used for cyberattacks against students.
- In Mobile, Alabama, a post in February warning of a school shooting led to extra police protection at a high school.
Yik Yak lets its users post 200-character status updates anonymously. Those updates can be seen and voted on by other Yik Yak users within a mile and a half of them. The posts are text only.
The app was founded in October by two recent college graduates from South Carolina and is aimed at college students.
Its App Store description says its purpose is to "create quality content and receive upvotes from other members of your community," but a sampling of posts from locations in White Plains, Nyack, Manhattan and Connecticut shows a variety of comments mostly about sex, high school gossip and drugs – or random insults about passersby.
"Yik Yak recognizes that with any social app or network today, there is the likelihood for misuse from a small group of users," said Jack Bunting, a public relations manager for Yik Yak in San Diego, in a statement.
To combat that, Yik Yak has blocked access to the app from most elementary and high schools in the U.S. by identifying a phone's GPS coordinates, and it has cooperated with police to identify anonymous users who post threats. The app is marketed for ages 17 and older, though Apple and Android app store accounts are available to anyone 13 and older and you don't need to inupt your age to download an app.
Thane Grauel contributed to this report