Yik Yak, the popular and controversial anonymous social media app, announced Wednesday it will allow users to post photos, but will not let them submit images that show a person's face.
The rules and language of the announcement show Yik Yak is trying to overcome its reputation influenced by users' racist and sexist remarks, bomb threats and mean-spirited posts. Instead, the app, which hopes to become more known as a hub for local news, advertises that users will be able to share images of "prime loot to be found at your local yard sale, the view of campus from your dorm window" or even help someone find a lost dog.
"We’re moderating photos before they appear in your feed, and there are a few guidelines to keep in mind -- no inappropriate photos (anything you wouldn't send to your mother), illegal content, or faces will be allowed in local feeds," the company wrote in a blog post. "However, we’ll still let you show off a pic of you and your bestie in photo collections within the Explore section of Peek. So be the person your dog thinks you are and only submit the good stuff."
Yik Yak displays anonymous posts on a realtime message board from users within a 1.5-mile radius. It gained popularity by targeting colleges, employing students as ambassadors and sending its mascot to select campuses.
Students on numerous campuses protested against the app over the previous academic year for racist and offensive comments it displayed, which students presumed were made by their classmates.
Some users complained early on that the moderation was blocking users from sharing memes with someone's face, the Verge noted. When Yik Yak began testing the photo feature on select campuses earlier this year, experts reacted with skepticism, given the controversy around the app's usage in recent years. But the addition of a moderated photo feature follows Yik Yak's recent partnership with the University of Florida to begin curating local news, another step toward the app's goal of being known as an online town square.