An app created by Furman alumni to help college students communicate anonymously may be being used for cyberbullying and threats, the Oconee County Sheriff's Office said on Monday.
Lt. Jimmy Watt said the app YikYak was created for college students, but has started being used in high schools and middle schools in the area.
The location-based network lets users post to people within a 5-mile radius of their current location. Users can post for free and reach up to 500 people in the radius, or pay to reach a larger audience.
Some are calling the anonymous app a "virtual bathroom wall" for students to vent gripes and post private information.
According to Watt, YikYak has been used to call in bomb threats in Massachusetts, Georgia and California.
Watt said the app "has caused some problems around the county."
But, so far, no reports have been filed in the county regarding any misuse of the app.
Watt said the school district has blocked access to YikYak, but students are still able to use the site through their phone's data plan.
"Our main concern with this app is the potential misuse of this technology by someone making libelous statements under the assumption that they can remain anonymous," according to Oconee County Sheriff Mike Crenshaw.
"First, students must understand that nothing is truly anonymous and information can be traced back to the source through the use of GPS technology. Secondly, anyone posting anything libelous against another person can be charged criminally," Crenshaw continued.
According to the website TechCrunch, the app was created by Furman University students Tyler Droll and Brooks Buffington.
According to TechCrunch, the programmers have taken steps to block younger users of the app.
The sheriff's office suggested the following safety tips for safety media:
1. Log into all accounts manually. Don't log into social media through a link in an email. The email could be a hidden way for someone to take over your account and get your personal information.
2. Lock your privacy settings to prevent others from seeing your personal information.
3. Do not allow or use GPS on your telephone or device. You can turn this off in your settings. A potential stalker could utilize this technology to figure out where you live or even identify your current location.
4. Refrain from posting your current location. By telling everyone you are currently in Atlanta Georgia or any other location lets a potential burglar know you are away from home and they can go burglarize and steal your property.
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