Yik Yak facing criticism after threats in Fla.

Posted at 2:20 AM, Sep 10, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-10 02:20:54-04

Right now we’re looking into a threat of a shooting on a South Florida college campus made by a student through the social media app Yik Yak.

Florida Atlantic University students saw the message before it disappeared, saying the man threatened to open fire in one of the main areas where students and professors walk to class.

Although the app allows users to post anonymously, police were able to track the suspect down in just two hours.

Just last week in Tampa, the University of Florida had a similar threat.

Police talked to that guy too and let him go after deciding it wasn’t a serious threat.

If you have never used the app Yik Yak it doesn’t require a login or password. You simply type in your phone number to see what people are seeing within a mile of you.

But with each message privately typed, some think there is no fear of getting caught; however, police are watching.

At USF, police monitor new threats on social media.

“We are in an age where electronic communication is where these threats are being communicated. That's occurring over social media such as Facebook, Yik Yak,” Capt. Michel Klingebiel said.

Klingebiel investigates only five posts every year from alleged shootings to cyber bullying, last week being the most recent.

Police were able to contact Yik Yak to track down an 18-year-old living near the campus who wrote a sarcastic response when he was accused by another user of planning a shooting.

Although it was not serious, police are on guard all the time.

“We do public searches when there is a threat that needs to be investigated,” Klingebiel said.

Their best resource is students.

“We are relying on those participating in the social media to see something, say something. We are all in post-9/11, in a state of heightened awareness. We are more sensitive,” Klingebiel said.

But even with the so-called threat, most students think the chatter is harmless.

“It's college campus. Kids are going to mess around just to scare people, but not me, it doesn't scare me,” said a freshmen.

A senior said, “Anything that is said on there, I don't take it too seriously.”

With the app active at more than 1,000 colleges and universities, some campuses are banning it.

College of Idaho leaders asked Yik Yak to install a geo-fence to disable the app, a service anyone can request on the app’s website. It’s something middle and high schools have already done.

As for USF calling it quits, nothing has been proposed.

It’s not only Yik Yak that has had issues. Other apps like Secret and Whisper have reportedly taken threats and bullying to new heights.