Yik Yak is back but how will the controversial social network curb toxic behaviour?

The app, which went offline in 2017, has returned under new ownership

Yik Yak was made available on the US iOS App Store on Monday after a four-year hiatus. Yik Yak
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The anonymous location-based social network Yik Yak, which went belly-up in 2017 after rousing controversy, has returned from the dead.

The app, with its beady-eyed yak icon, was made available on the iOS App Store on Monday for US users. It is yet to be made accessible for Android users. The company has said it plans on expanding its reach in the near future.

Yik Yak is now run by new owners, who seem to be trying to extricate the app from its contentious past and provide a less toxic environment for its users.

Founded in 2013, the app provided a platform where users around an eight-kilometre radius could chat anonymously. It was a hit with university students, but was also a hotbed for bullying, harassment and threats of violence. Its popularity waned in 2016 and it was eventually shut down a year later after financial services company Square acquired some of the app’s engineering team and intellectual property for $1 million, leaving Yik Yak behind.

“We're the new owners of Yik Yak," reads a statement on the website. "We purchased the rights to redevelop the Yik Yak app from an original maker in February 2021, and we've been working to bring the app back to life ever since.

“We're bringing Yik Yak back because we believe the global community deserves a place to be authentic, a place to be equal, and a place to connect with people nearby. We're committed to making Yik Yak a fun place free of bullying, threats and all sort of negativity.”

The new owners have also issued a set of guidelines they’ve branded as Community Guardrails to help keep negative behaviour in check.

“If you see a yak that doesn't vibe with the Community Guardrails, please immediately downvote and report it. Yaks that reach -5 total vote points are removed from Yik Yak."

The website also contains resources for mental health and safety, advising users to reach out to "downvote" bullying posts and reach out for help if necessary.

The return was met with mixed reactions on social media. While some said they picked up the app right where they left off, most seem to think its anonymous feature could bring the worst out of people.

“Yik Yak has returned and I feel like I'm in college again,” one Twitter user wrote.

“Yik Yak ready to traumatise another set of college kids,” wrote another.

Updated: August 18, 2021, 12:53 PM