While Twitter saw little discussion of this year’s students’ union executive election, a popular anonymous app has found itself the home of much public debate – including personal attacks on candidates.
Yik Yak provides users with a live, ever-changing feed of anonymous posts made by users in close proximity to one another. The app has previously gained popularity at Mount Allison as a forum for jokes, venting about exams, and the odd debate about feminism, but took a vicious turn with posts about both presidential candidates.
“One Person fucked up and one threw a tantrum and called a national news outlet about it. I’ll take the one who fucked up and owned it thanks. #piper2015,” wrote one poster.
Some posts questioned the trustworthiness of both candidates. Others even urged students to abstain from voting either presidential candidate with the hashtag “#ABSTAINMASUPRESIDENT2K15.”
Several students said that Yik Yak was a destructive influence on the elections and that is was an outlet for people to complain and criticize without any intent to form a constructive dialogue.
“People should focus more on speeches and platforms rather than Yik Yak,” said Brooke Cheeks, a second-year math major.
Candidate Dylan Wooley-Berry commented on the evolution of Yik Yak’s presence on campus. “It started out as such a light-hearted, fun thing,” Wooley-Berry said, “Over the course of this campaign and over the course of second semester, it’s turned into the opposite of that. It’s become a real divisive force within the community.”
Early in the election, Yik Yak was host to a string of posts alleging Wooley-Berry was anti-feminist. “Not hating on him because he’s a man? Critical of his often sexist comments and treatment of women which he covers up with his faux charm,” said one post. “I consider myself a feminist,” said Wooley-Berry. “I saw myself being called an anti-feminist, I saw someone claiming that ‘DWB’ stood for ‘Da Woman Beater,’” said Wooley-Berry. “One of the original thoughts that rushed through my head was: It’s over.”
Because Yik Yak is anonymous, it’s impossible to know how many individuals are posting, and who made which posts. It’s possible that the Yik Yak arguments and personal attacks are the work of just a few individuals.
Whatever the case may be, it’s wearing Yik Yak users out. Third-year psychology major Ian Cathcart spoke to the Argosy the night before polls opened. “I almost don’t feel like voting anymore. I feel like this is the most negative [election] that I’ve seen so far.”
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