Yik Yak may yak misinformation

By Daily Illini Editorial Board

Many students are using Yik Yak as a way to comment on what’s going on in their area. The anonymous forum allows anyone with the app to post anything they want — whether it’s true or not.

The app can be used as a fun way to make sarcastic comments that students appreciate, and there are always a few giggle-worthy one-liners that we love. However, what we find worrisome about the app is the way people use it to report crime.

Yik Yak is not a news source, and students should take information they read on Yik Yak with a grain of salt. It seems like every week a different building or house on campus is on fire, or at least, that’s what Yik Yak tells us.

On Thursday night, Yik Yak was full of posts warning people of masked men running around campus.

“Was just on the quad, guy with mask and knife terrorizing people. Stay away,” one post read.

While these posts may have the intention of keeping people on campus safe by warning them of crime, these posts should not be relied on to alert campus of crime, especially when they do not include all of the accurate information that students need.

In addition to that, when users are anonymous, it does not hold them accountable for posting things that are untrue.

In Thursday’s case, some of the posts about the masked men turned out to be greatly exaggerated.

University police said there were two brothers who were banned from campus for wearing costumes and scaring individuals with fake knives as part of a Halloween prank.

People were posting about the offenders running around with knives until past 11 p.m.; however, they were removed from campus hours earlier.

From the time the police were notified of the brothers, they were removed from campus in less than 10 minutes, said Skip Frost, deputy chief of the University Police Department.

It is important that the campus is made aware of crimes or any danger happening on campus, but those crimes need to be confirmed with the police before being spread around social media.

Posting about crimes without knowing the full story can lead to confusion and panic about a situation that is under control, like in Thursday’s case.

In light of recent crimes, students should take any potential crimes seriously.

With social media, it is possible for almost anyone to share their thoughts, whether it be through Yik Yak, Facebook or Twitter. And, as we are all well aware, social media sources are great mediums to get information out there quickly, but some of that information is best left to be spread and confirmed by officials.

While part of the fun of Yik Yak is that it’s anonymous, people need to be mindful of what information they are posting, and be careful not to believe everything they read.