Back in the golden days of 2014, 2015, and 2016, Yik Yak was all the rage on college campuses across the nation. Launching in 2013, the app allowed users to connect with other college students while remaining anonymous. The creators of the app labeled it as a microblogging social media app for students to share a live feed of their daily thoughts. Many college students loved the app and, though rare, even met people through it. Essentially, Yik Yak was an anonymous Twitter.
As the saying goes, all good things must come to an end, and Yik Yak was no different. The app had numerous complaints of cyber-bullying and harassment, which lead to the creators decision to revoke the anonymity of the app by requiring users to create "handles". User identities did not become completely transparent. However, many were unhappy with the decision of the company to require users to create usernames, even if this decision was made in pursuit of a better, safer app. People enjoyed the anonymity that came with no one having a name or picture attached to their thoughts. The creators of Yik Yak expected this to be a great step for the app that would create tighter communities. However, it was not well received and ultimately lead to the downfall of this social media platform.
Fast forward to 2019, and a new app is starting to catch on like wildfire - pun intended. This new app really isn't really all that new, considering it was originally launched back in 2016, before the final collapse of Yik Yak. However, the app wasn't well known or frequently used until recent years. Wildfire has very similar features to Yik Yak. Some examples are the voting system that allows users to either like or dislike a post as well as the ability to comment on other posts. Additionally, this app requires you to have a username attached to your comments and posts. It's interesting that what lead to the downfall of one app has not hindered the growth of another. I suppose this could be due to the fact that there was not complete anonymity initially within the Wildfire community.
Unlike Yik Yak, Wildfire was originally created as a way to get important safety information across college campuses in a timely matter, and it is actually still marketed as such. However, the app also allows users to post non-emergency thoughts and opinions as well, which has turned this platform into a space that feels nostalgically similar to Yik Yak. On The University of Alabama campus, students do use this app to share information when emergencies arise. However, the consistent non-emergency banter is what truly keeps the app interesting and engaging.
It is worth noting that a good majority of college students who used, and loved, Yik Yak have graduated and moved on from the days of oversharing on the semi-anonymous corners of the internet. So Wildfire is attracting an almost completely different set of students. However, college students who are undergraduate juniors or seniors, like myself, have noticed the obvious similarities between the two apps and it raises the question: is Wildfire the new Yik Yak? I guess only time will tell.