Yik Yak, the app that creates local, anonymous bulletin boards, is now going to allow users to post photos along with their comments and questions, the company announced in a blog post today.
Given its popularity among college students and its focus on hyperlocal content, the update to include photos is a natural step to take. But since its introduction, Yik Yak has been roiled by abusive and offensive messages. Now, the company is clearly wary and taking steps to ensure that the photos that appear on the service don't cause further issues.
Nothing inappropriate or illegal, and no faces
To that end, Yik Yak has introduced a number of rules that users must follow. "Nothing inappropriate or illegal, and no faces," the company wrote. What does this mean? Well first off — brace yourselves — there will be no selfies allowed on local feeds. The restriction is probably meant to ensure that people aren't personally attacking or identifying anybody — Yik Yak already moderates its text posts to remove identifying information about other people.
Earlier this year Yik Yak addressed bullying directly, changing the app's age requirement to 17 and over and making it easier to flag inappropriate posts. With this update, Yik Yak is emphasizing that each photo will be moderated before it is allowed to be shared with other users (or the "Herd," as they are known in Yik Yak's parlance). Gigaom reported last year that Yik Yak, along with the now-dead Secret, used Philippines-based outsourcing firm TaskUs to moderate their content, and it's likely that Yik Yak will continue to use this system to moderate their photos.
Photos of animals seem to be okay though, and you can still share pictures of people by going to "Peek," and then "Explore," presumably because photo collections in "Explore" have a broader audience than just your local community. I tested it by trying to share a picture of Kanye West and was told that my image was being processed. When I refreshed about a minute later though, that post had just disappeared, and I received no notification telling me that my image hadn't passed muster.
Yik Yak's announcement received a number of mixed reactions from users in the app, including early complaints that the app's moderation system blocked a meme from being posted because it contained a face. It's unclear whether this is because photos are automatically moderated or because the app is sticking to its strict No Faces on Feeds policy.
The new photos will likely provide a boost in engagement. Down the road, it's not hard to imagine that allowing for photos will give Yik Yak another opportunity: ads or sponsored content. The company recently raised $62 million in funding from Sequoia Capital, and at some point it will need to figure out a way to make money.