Cyberbullying Still Exists, Thanks To The Yik Yak App
I wrote this letter to Yik Yak after dealing with incessant harassment via the app, which is essentially an anonymous twitter. I received no response, so I had to take matters into my own hands.
Hello. My name is Sarah Swallow. My twin sister Katherine, and I, who attend Boston College, have been the victims of cyber bullying via the app Yik Yak, which is essentially an anonymous twitter. I recently emailed Yik Yak to inform them of this situation, and the fact that their app perpetuates cyber bullying by nature, but received no response. I'm sure that my sister and I are not the only people who are victims at the hand of this malicious app. I'll now send you what I wrote to Yik Yak:
"Dear Yik Yak,
My name is Sarah Swallow. When I first heard about your app back in 2014 as I attended Boston College as a freshman, I thought that it was an interesting idea. It was a means by which timid freshmen could ask advice about which classes to take, what parties were occurring, or what dorm was best to live in on a non-threatening platform. It was a means by which we could relate to one another, making the large campus feel a little more intimate to a scared freshman.
However, as I write to you now, this "One Herd. One Love." of which you speak is dead. Regarding your product, you advertise on your website that "Yik Yak is a location-based social network that helps people discover their local community, letting them share news, crack jokes, offer support, ask questions, and interact freely. It's home to the casual, relatable, heartfelt, and silly things that connect people with their community." My "local community" is a radius surrounding the campus of Boston College, the school at which I'm now a sophomore. The only "jokes" that are cracked on Yik Yak are the extremely derogatory comments directed at me and my twin sister, Katherine, by anonymous users. You advertise the app as a means of offering support, but the only "support" that I see on Yik Yak is the support of one cause: to harass and cyber bully my sister and I incessantly. The last statement in the aforementioned quote is so far from the truth that it doesn't warrant a response from me.
As I downloaded Yik Yak yesterday, curious to see what people were writing these days, I was quite surprised to see a copious amount of extremely derogatory Yik Yaks in a row mentioning "Swallow" or the "twins." I promptly scrolled through and reported each bully's comment. What really surprised me was your app's inability to recognize that clearly if a name was mentioned 30 times in a row, it probably entailed harassment. Even after I reported every hateful comment, Yik Yak continued to allow posts to contain my last name. This is absolutely unacceptable. At this point, you should probably rename your app, "Shit on the Swallow twins." I'd now like to include a list of some of the comments that were written to directly attack me and my sister within a day and a half. I can gladly also send screenshots of each of these statements if the typed form doesn't suffice to prove my point.
"Still confused by the swallows. Thought you only saw twins doing semi-pornographic photo shoots at community colleges."
"Waiting for them to make their first porn"
"Lol I guess they're the talk of BC"
"Who is swallow"
"Girl who makes out with her sister"
"The Swallow twins look like those models that never made it so they just did porn"
"Im sorry but the swallows twins' twitter screams incest"
"The Swallows are soo salty they didn't get Plexapalooza tix. Such a missed insta opportunity"
"Swallow reminds the prof to check the homework"
"I bet swallow deep throats the prof"
"Class of 2017 stands with that freshman over that Swallow chick, sounds like a real piece of work honestly"
"At least Swallow doesn't have tickets"
"You think swallow would give me head for a ticket to chain smokers?"
"I'm dedicating my next drunken rendition of "You Can't Always Get What You Want" to the lovely Swallow twins."
"Do the Swallows swallow?"
"Can someone explain this to me"
"there have been at least 50 posts today making fun of the swallow twins"
"when one of those poor girls kills themselves I hope you all feel good about yourselves for always ganging up on them"
Response to that: "0-100 REAL QUICK"
"What the heck happened with the swallow twins? Not trying to make fun of them I just don't know what happened"
"Yik yak going at those swallows"
"Their bodies are tight but the faces are kinda busted"
"they're in top 5% hottest girls at school u high bro"
"Definitely not, plenty of more attractive girls here. Not calling em ugly, but their faces could use some work"
"I tried googling Swallow sisters then I ended up on a porn site now my sheets are soiled. Thanks Obama."
"The Swallows are the definition of butterfaces."
"What are the swallows names"
Response: "Katherine and Sarah"
"The other day I saw an amputee student and a guy walked by and gave him a shocked look up and down. Really pissed me off and so does this swallow sister thing."
"Can someone explain the swallows situation objectively?"
"Advice for the Swallows: No one actually cares about what you do or say, so just stop posting stupid shit on Facebook and everyone will leave you alone. Problem solved"
"Who the hell are the swallows? What happened to create such an uproar? Why are things the way they are?"
"y'all sound like stalkers poor twins"
"They're socially obtuse"
"One day they will get it. That day isn't today."
"Who cares about these twins? They're irrelevant. Please stop giving them the attention they want and grow up this isn't middle school."
"Who are the swallow twins. I feel like I missed something"
I'd now like to include a definition of cyber bullying because it's become apparent that those who created and market the Yik Yak app don't appear to comprehend it. By the Official Website of the Attorney General of Massachussetts, "cyberbullying is bullying, through the use of technology or electronic devices such as cell phones, computers, video gaming systems and the Internet. It may include "sending hurtful, hateful, derogatory, harassing, or threatening messages to others." It would "cause a reasonable person to suffer emotional distress."
Now, unless you live under a rock, you must be aware that cyber bullying has led to many attempted and successful suicides. Thus, the state of Massachussetts (along with other states) consider cyber bullying to be an extremely serious crime, which is classified under the same penal laws as stalking, criminal harassment, and hate crimes, and can lead to serious jail time. So how is it, then, that someone who sits behind a computer and cyber bullies another person WILL be penalized for it, but it's permissible that people hide behind their phone screens and cyberbully via Yik Yak anonymously, with no fear of repercussions or punishment? Your app is the embodiment perpetuating cyber bullying with no repercussions. It's essentially like a loophole at this point. I wouldn't be surprised if some have already contemplated suicide based on the extremely hateful comments that are seen on Yik Yak. Your app absolutely disgusts me. At this day and age, in my college area, it's become apparent that the sole purpose is to anonymously deride and destroy others. I'm fully expecting that you will deal with this situation by closing the radius around Boston College, so that Yik Yak no longer works here or elsewhere for that matter. The amount of emotional distress I've endured from your app and the hateful comments it helps to perpetrate is almost inconceivable. I'm anticipating an email back from you with a solution to this disgusting problem.
Expecting a change,
There have been some new Yik Yaks about us while I was writing this post. They read as follows:
"The twins are most likely the hottest girls on campus. Of course people are jealous"
"Not even close. Gtfo"
"They're above average but I could name at least 10-20 other sophomore girls hotter than them"
"They are not attractive at all? They have very bad faces, platinum hair, and orange skin. Which is why I never felt the need to bully them"
"Swallow triplet? (along with this was a picture of an oompa loompa that said $10 per hour)
"Fuck the swallows"
"What was said about the two blonde girls ?? #justtryingtojointheconvo"
"People talk shit about people on yikyak all the time, but everyone suddenly cares about cyberbullying when it's about moderately attractive blonde girls."
"well I think I've seen at least 60 posts about them just today so ya bro that constitutes cyber bullying and has nothing to do with their looks"
"Need to know what happened to cause this yak"
"literally nothing people are obsessed with them happens when you're popular"
"I saw them before, thought they were cute, and moved on with my life instead of posting about them. They are not interesting or attractive to me."
"They literally didn't do anything. People are obsessed. They're two blonde twins and even a year ago I saw someone post about how it's weird two blonde girls are always together."
"Is this really all we have to talk about? Shit people are dying around the world and we are talking about the feelings and looks of a set of twins… Really?
"The terrible part is that they're being compared to cheap prostitutes when I have seen girls with much worse pictures"
"Nothing they have done merits my attention"
"It's disgusting especially for such a prestigious school you would think people have more developed interests. They've been called superficial when they've been talked about on here and compared to cheap prostitutes just based on how they look. I haven't seen anything outrageous done by them and feel disappointed in the students at this school after this"
"Oh, and they've been through this not once but twice, OP. Last year, people were giving them shit on yin yak as well. If you ask me and other individuals with commons sense believe that being "moderately attractive blondes" have absolutely no part in sticking up for them as they are people being bullied."
"When else has this happened on such a large scale at BC? This post is such a cynical, misguided effort at excusing the unacceptable behavior by a group of adults who should know better."
If you'd like to help take down this malicious app and expose it's ability to perpetuate cyber bullying, please help the cause. I will gladly furnish this post with screenshots of each aforementioned Yik Yak that I typed out. Thank you for your time and I hope that you find this helpful.
Hoping for change, Sarah Swallow