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Anonymous App Yik Yak On A Decline: What Went Wrong

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What Is Yik Yak?

If you were in college in 2014-2015, the students at your school were more than likely hooked on a little app called Yik Yak. The app connects members to a location based social network where they can chat with each other about various subjects, crack jokes, and interact freely, but anonymously. Created in 2013, Yik Yak was built on the premise that (ideally) if someone’s identity is masked, they’re more likely to freely engage in more transparent conversation. According to Yik Yak’s website:

“By letting you share news, ask questions, offer support, and interact freely with others who are in the same place at the same time, Yik Yak acts as a springboard for discovering, meeting, and connecting with people in your local community”.

The app’s creators, Tyler Droll and Brooks Buffington, noticed that the only people getting the most Twitter views around the school were high profile students like athletes. They created Yik Yak as a way for the “common man” to have their voices heard without having to be super popular. Brooks Buffington stated that the app was made for the “disenfranchised”. Now everyone could feel like their opinions mattered.

Founders Tyler Droll and Brooks Buffington (Image Credit: NY Times)

Yik Yak is specifically geared towards college students and uses geofencing to intentionally block out middle and high schools. In fact, you must submit the name of the college you attend in order to gain access to the Yik Yak members within that area. You cannot put in names of cities, restaurants, sporting locations, or tourist attractions. There are no user profiles in Yik Yak and does not have a concept of “friends” or “followers”. It’s more like a virtual bulletin board allowing students to post whatever they want. Because Yik Yak caters to college students, it became an ideal place for college students to vent frustrations with teachers, help each other with homework, or encourage others going through tough midterms or finals. At the height of its popularity, Yik Yak was the #2 most downloaded social media app and #3 most downloaded iOS app in the United States according to App Annie. In November 2014, Yik Yak secured about $62 million in capital from Sequoia Capital. Unfortunately, the anonymous aspect of Yik Yak became much more than venting and has led to a plummeting subscriber base and high level executive departures.

What Happened?

Due to users being anonymous, it allowed anyone to say what they wanted without fear of reprisal. The social network became a breeding ground for demeaning, insensitive speech, often including hate speech and sexually explicit images and language. Many students have complained of bullying and verbal abuse. An excellent 2015 article in the New York Times details many of these incidents. Per the article:

“Since the app was introduced a little more than a year ago, it has been used to issue threats of mass violence on more than a dozen college campuses, including the University of North Carolina, Michigan State University and Penn State. Racist, homophobic and misogynist “yaks” have generated controversy at many more, among them Clemson, Emory, Colgate and the University of Texas. At Kenyon College, a ‘yakker’ proposed a gang rape at the school’s women’s center.”

In May 2015, an outspoken feminist at the University of Mary Washington was killed. Months before, she and others complained of sexual harassment on Yik Yak and alleged that the university did nothing to curb the toxic environment of the app.

yik yak alert

What Can Be Done?

Unfortunately, little can be done to correctly identify purveyors of abusive and hateful speech on the app specifically because of the anonymity. According to the app’s privacy policy, Yik Yak will not reveal users without a valid subpoena, court order, or search warrant that specifically states imminent harm. While some schools such as the College of Idaho have outright banned it, other schools have asked Yik Yak to place a geofence around the school to prevent students from using the app. Technically, Yik Yak can be banned from being used on the school’s Wi-Fi network, students can simply use their cellular provider. However, even with banning the app on the school’s Wi-Fi, many civil liberties advocates have spoken out against potential First Amendment violations…even if that speech is offensive. Regarding actual threats, Yik Yak does cooperate with local authorities in emergency cases. Per the NY Times article:

“In cases involving threats of mass violence, Yik Yak has cooperated with authorities. Most recently, in November, local police traced the source of a yak — ’I’m gonna [gun emoji] the school at 12:15 p.m. today’ — to a dorm room at Michigan State University. The author, Matthew Mullen, a freshman, was arrested within two hours and pleaded guilty to making a false report or terrorist threat. He was spared jail time but sentenced to two years’ probation and ordered to pay $800 to cover costs connected to the investigation”.

Back in March, Yik Yak tried to force users to add “handles” to their posts and although the handles don’t have to correspond to the users’ real name, caused a spike in one star reviews in the Apple App Store. Yik Yak removed the requirement in November and kept it as optional. Yik Yak’s philosophy in policing speech within the social network is actually more libertarian. The app’s creators believe in a more “democratic” approach to policing the network. Users are allowed to upvote or downvote a post. If a post receives 5 downvotes, it is automatically deleted. Yik Yak founder Tyler Droll said, “Really, what it comes down to is that we try to empower the communities as much as we can”. In addition, certain keywords are flagged automatically and prompt the user to confirm that they want to post the yak.

Yik Yak isn’t the only social network to come under fire for allowing offensive speech on their networks. Websites such as Reddit, Facebook, and Twitter have all been criticized for not policing hate speech effectively, particularly during a very contentious U.S. presidential election. Unfortunately, this puts a lot of pressure on social networks to strike a delicate balance between free speech and hateful speech. One could argue that although one person’s speech may be offensive, unless it’s inciting violence, it should be allowed. Although Yik Yak still has millions in the bank, time will tell if Yik Yak will regain its former glory.

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How To Attract Millennials To Your City

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Location matters in the means of professional success. Millennials are reported to be getting married and starting families later than their parents. This means that their main focus is strictly on their professional career, so these matters are taken seriously, as they involve these factors into determining where to live. Millennials select cities that will help them thrive. This goes vice versa, cities need to attract people in order to be sustainable. The city of Camden has been successful with this process. With the increase of millennial entrepreneurs entering the city, the better the economy gets, as it is shown around the waterfront.

To create more jobs and attraction, cities must attract the job-seeking millennials. There are 3 determinants for millennials to move into your city:

Affordability

Someone who is financially responsible will always consider the cost of living foremost. Cities that contain a high population of millennials often have low employment rates and affordability. If the city is popular but does not meet within millennial’s budget, then it wouldn’t be worth the cost. Money is the only physical asset that holds us restricted. The city of Camden holds that title of affordability. Tax cuts are what attracts entrepreneurs mainly, however the overall value of the stay is well worth it. Camden is located outside of Philadelphia, just close enough to go into their city to network without paying Philadelphia’s cost of living.

Entrepreneurship

Millennials are an ambitious generation. A reporting claimed that 54% have either wanted to start a business or have started one already. This characterized millennials as hard-working and motivated individuals. A location that showcases trails of entrepreneurship deliver a desirable reality to people. Silicon Valley embodies this example, as it is the most known startup hub for technology companies in America. Famous companies like Apple, Facebook, and Google are in that area, so the status of Silicon Valley is held at a high standard.

Another location that is maintaining that status is Camden. Due to Camden’s location outside of Philadelphia and surrounding fortune 500 companies, millennial entrepreneurs are inspired to bring their startup here. There are multiple different types of organizations located here with 76ers as one.

Accessibility

Millennials are attracted to cities that cater to their needs. About 66% of Millennials identified  decent quality transportation as a main influence to choosing a location to live. People typically pick the option that meets their social needs. To obtain that, a low cost transit is ideally looked for in a city. Cities with an ineffective quality transit fail to attract Millennials. 

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How Millennials Are Changing The Workplace

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Millennials are reshaping the traditional corporate structure. With new CEOs entering the workforce, more companies have been adapting new tactics for managing, motivating, and improving. Millennial entrepreneurs have set the new standards to doing business, focusing on collaboration and efficiency. Soon by 2025, millennials will accommodate 75% of the workforce. This will replace the baby boomers, who have been recorded as the largest generation in the workforce. This instant switch leaves other generations questioning their management. These are 4 ways millennials are changing the workplace:

Emphasizing Technology

Millennials are the generation born after year 1982 and before 2004. This was essentially the era of technology beginnings. To be raised in the ever changing state of development, this generation foresees big things for the digital future. This need for rapid growth has created various platforms for creators, entrepreneurs, and more. Millennials have a profound belief that technology is the future, and so we should precisely use it to our advantage. Networking has been perfected with Linkedin, while Youtube is colonized by content creators, and Slack has better connected employees.

Open To Change

Millennials were born to alternate between innovation and tradition. To be raised in the era of constant development, generation Y has cultivated the skill to be open to change. Arguably, change is intended for growth, so that is how Millennials greet it. The digital age has disrupted traditional systems for the better, a concept that was impossible in the past. Due to the inconsistency they’ve experienced growing up, millennials have subdue their harsh conditions by advocating innovation. Although innovation is a new idea, generation Y strictly believes this is an optimal lifestyle.

This generation does not believe in a constant, that everything has potential. Camden embodies that figure of high potential. Organizations are racing into the city of Camden, for it is the next startup hub for Millennial entrepreneurs. With the economy’s rapid growth and welcoming nature, businesses are rushing in to secure their space. Just outside of Philadelphia, the city of Camden possess hope, just what entrepreneurs need.

Work With Purpose

Millennials differ from baby boomers in one drastic motive. The new generation seek a sense of control and innovation that past generations seem to lack. Millennials deeply value purpose, to even go the extra mile in changing jobs for content. Perhaps it’s due to their entitlement, but Millennials are stubborn to the belief of following your inclination. 60% of employees confess that it is critical to allow them the capacity to do what they do best. Many Millennials will settle in the lower paying job, as long as it allows them the ability to express their talents.

As observed in the city of Camden, non-profit organizations scatter throughout in order to rebuild the city of hope. Devoted organizations and passionate millennial entrepreneurs in the city are growing and giving back to the community.

Work Flexibility

The typical 9-5 business hour job is declining as Millennials continue to enter the workforce. The Census Bureau estimated that 13.4 million Americans work from home. The data will only increase when more Millennials start to work. This new career outlook stems from the disfavored opinion against office confinement. In the strong devotion for both work and freedom, Millennials compromised with the issue by creating careers from the comfort of their own home. Freelance work has been the popular option for Millennials, since it allows independency.  

 

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Holiday 2017 Gift Guide for Stocking Stuffers

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2017 gift guide

Stockings are a traditional ornament to Christmas, but the stuffings inside are what makes it jolly. Stocking stuffers redefine gift giving, that neither size or price matters in the premise of giving a present. These miniature gifts give entrepreneurs the advantage to pick up gifts last minute. The standards for stocking stuffers are to simply be small and compact, but that shouldn’t reflect on the quality of the gift. When entrepreneurs want to impress their receivers, these are the gifts to provide for them in the 2017 Gift Guide:

Vanacci

2017 gift guide

 

The Vanacci lockstone bracelet is the bracelet that I have been waiting for. I have been using the Vanacci bracelet for about a month now and I haven’t taken it off since. Not only is there quality fantastic, there is the added benefit of the my unique scent/cologne will follow me around throughout the day.

Like most men, I did not follow the original directions of spraying the bracelet and letting it sit. I sprayed directly on the arm, and rarely have to reapply. My personal band is black and goes with just about anything. This is a great gift for the fashionable male.

Moment Lenses

2017 gift guide

The size and quality of Moment Lenses are impressive. The detail on each glasses are built professionally, while the weight of the lens are kept at a decent size. These attractive lenses are perfect for either starters or professionals in photography, since the product is easy to navigate through. The lenses offered are in the shape of a Wide 18mm lens, or a Macro 25mm lens, and also includes a 170 degree Superfish field of vision lens. Moment Lenses now have a battery case as well, that is also equipped with its new mounting system. They now offer external shutter buttons, travel cases, and other accessories all on their website. With finally an attached via a mounting clip(these new lenses twist 180 degrees). The perfect gift for self-proclaimed photographers from the 2017 Gift Guide.

Nomad’s Leather Charging Wallet

2017 holiday gift guide

Nomad brings the perfect combo to solving iPhone’s battery problem and wallet situation. The wallet contains a thin lithium-ion battery that holds a 2400 mAh charge in their built in cable. Mobile users are saved from a sudden battery shortage with this unique product. The idea of applying a charger within a wallet stems from the belief that we will always have our wallets with us. Now, with a charger embedded into our wallets, you can charge your phone whenever or wherever. Displayed in brown, the advanced SoC (system on chip) microprocessor additionally enable the battery to fully charge your mobile device. A first choice gift to a loved one from the 2017 Gift Guide. 

Upright Go

2017 gift guide

The device that is about 4.25’ long, 1.5’ wide, and 1’ thick, Upright Go is the perfect gift for people who slouch. The product is made of silicone rubber material and can be used up to 10 days on a single charge. Upright is also connected to your iOS or Android smartphone app, with individual training plan for gradual change. The strict reinforcements in Upright’s gentle vibration delivers a cue to help you remember to sit up. The method is taken from B.F. Skinner’s operant conditioning theory, that is effectively used in Upright technology today. The obvious gift to offer in the 2017 Gift Guide. 

Anker SoundBuds Curve Bluetooth Headphones

2017 gift guide

Anker headphones are the perfect fit for athletes. The headphones have an earhook with a waterproof nano coating for complete comfort, this also includes a gym and running workout headset with pouch. Athletes can continue their rigorous workouts with Anker headphones on due to their lightweight condition. The product itself is durable with a strong connection to devices up to 30 feet. Their most special quality is within their CVC noise cancellation feature that runs on 12.5 hours of battery. Although Anker’s bluetooth headphones have amazing qualities, a headphone can’t be rated without mentioning their sound. With that, Anker provides a quality sound with it’s ample bass, that will allow users to really capture a feel for their music. 

Anker PowerLine + Lightning Cable with Pouch

2017 gift guide

The charging cable for many apple products, including the new iPhone X to the iPod touch. The product is named the lightning cable simply due to their fast speed charge, due to their wide diameter wires and minimized cord resistance. Like many of Anker’s products, the lightning cable is durable. The cable is 5x more durable than other original products also. The product’s performance remained constant, no matter how many times the cable has been bent. The 3ft toughest and fastest cable product comes in black, grey, white, red, and blue. 

Anker PowerCore Portable Charger

2017 gift guide

The Anker powercore ultra-compact 10000mAh portable charger is designed to be smaller than a candy bar. Their unique cut ridged-surface brings a new experience to users, allowing a precise grip to the charger. The surface is also intended to avoid smudges so the product is looking presentable always. This includes an output temperature control, high voltage protection, current regulation, and more. Their most distinctive feature is within their 8-light led sensor to detect the power percentage on the charger. One of Anker’s most unique product and a good choice for the 2017 Gift Guide.

Mikol Marble Notebook

2017 gift guide

For writers, sketch artists, or simply anyone, Mikol provides an attractive notebook for a gift. The Mikol notebooks offer a Carrara white and the Nero Marquina style, made of 100% real natural stone from Spain. With this, their brand name is engraved in gold on the front. This can be altered by an additional $25 for a word of your choice engraved below. The notebook contains 180 pages of cream colored paper, while each section is divided up by a variety of different types of styles. One section of the notebook provided lined pages, the next a grid, and the last section, blank pages. A quality notebook for all types of talents.

Sudio AB

2017 gift guide

Headphones are an essential asset due to the digital age, Sudio AB are as aesthetically pleasing as it is practical. The wireless headphones are lightweight, easy to use, and are perfect for entrepreneurs who desire functionally and beautifully designed products. Tres headphones are ideally for office use, with the 9-hour battery life and quick charge capability. The packaging is simplistic and mirrors Apple’s minimal designs. The headphones themselves come in neutral colors with an accent of black, gold, or rose gold that appears more like pink in person. Different size ear comforters allow fit for a variety of users, although long term wear can leave the ear a bit sore.

 

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