Of course, you don’t have to create user names that have anything to do with your real name, which ensures that there is at least some level of anonymity. However, the move will be frustrating for many users who might not want a connection to be made between all of their posts. For those users, there is still some good news. Even though you do have to create a handle in order to post, you don’t have to display that handle.
“You can post with your handle whenever you want,” noted Yik Yak in its blog post. “And since you can come to recognize the other personalities that make your community unique and awesome, with handles your herd will feel closer than ever.”
Yik Yak is hoping that the decision will create a better sense of community, making more active contributors more trusted. It could, however, have the opposite effect, and alienate users that want a social media network where they don’t have to see names and make connections in that way.
Of course, Yik Yak has never been 100 percent anonymous. Even when the social media network started in 2013, posts were, and still are, organized based on location. Posts appear from within a five mile radius, and users can choose to reply to or upvote those posts.
The handles themselves will need to be between three and 20 characters, and must abide by the company’s terms of service, which includes that they can not be racially offensive or use obscene or threatening language.
Yik Yak has had issues with spam, hate speech, and online bullying, so its moves towards less anonymity could be aimed at trying to counter these problems. It will be interesting to see how handles change use of the app, or if they change it at all.