Yik Yak’s privacy policy may not be what you think

Don’t think you are so anonymous.


Gregory Cox, Managing Editor

Yik Yak, the mobile social media app that allows users to share thoughts confidentially, gained much of its popularity based on the anonymity of it all.

Yik Yak’s privacy policy, which users usually neglect to read, says the app “may disclose the information in order to comply with the law, a judicial proceeding, court order, subpoena or other legal process,” which means it’s not really private at all.

This means that Yik Yak can share your IP address, location information or any other information that you provide them to the police or other figures of authority, according to the policy.

The legal policy also states that “Yik Yak may disclose user account information to law enforcement – without a subpoena, court order, or search warrant – in response to a valid emergency.” Yik Yak evaluates the severity of an emergency on a case-by-case basis.

What does this mean for the average user? Nothing if they keep Yakking about what is happening in biology professor Matthew Lovelace’s class, or about their dating life.

Screen Shot 2015-09-09 at 1.08.46 PM

Screen Shot 2015-09-09 at 1.10.52 PM

But if someone is threatening to shoot up a school, like the incident that happened last night, Yik Yak personnel may alert the authorities.

“As soon as I became aware of the situation I immediately reached out to the police department,” said Brandon Sirota, an FAU film and multimedia major and regional manager for Yik Yak. “We are proud that it was resolved within 2 hours.”

Screen Shot 2015-09-09 at 11.02.37 AM

People on Twitter praised the campus police department for being able to act so quickly.

Screen Shot 2015-09-09 at 11.34.56 AM

And don’t think that deleting a threatening Yak will protect you.

“You can delete content you have posted (including replies). Content you delete will be hidden from other users,” Yik Yak’s policy reads. “However, Yik Yak may maintain a copy of such content in our records.”

So as long as users don’t threaten to shoot anyone, or try to sell drugs, they shouldn’t have any problems. The UP is unsure of the legalities of begging for drugs.

Screen Shot 2015-09-09 at 1.12.09 PM

Ryan Lynch contributed to the reporting of this story.

Gregory Cox is the managing editor for the University Press. If you would like to contact him regarding this or other articles, email him at [email protected], or follow him on Twitter.