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YikYak Voting and Behavior Copying

MIT Media Labs published a paper investigating the use of vulgar language and the rise of unique topics in anonymous social media platforms by comparing Twitter and Yik Yak. https://www.media.mit.edu/publications/tracking-the-yak-an-empirical-study-of-yik-yak/

They concluded that posts on Yik Yak are that posts on Yik Yak are only slightly more likely to contain vulgarities. There was not any significant bias in topic distributions on Yik Yak versus on Twitter (Saveski). Although this is an interesting discovery they mention the possibility that Yik Yak could be more vulgar than recorded. Since Yik Yak allows its users to upvote and downvote comments, liked posts stay on the page and comments that receive negative 5 votes get deleted from the wall.

This occurrence aligns with the topic of copying the behavior of others that we discussed in class. On Yik Yak users can openly see if people upvote or downvote a post. This predisposes someone to think a certain way about a post, even though this may not be the truth. For example, a post may have -4 likes and the person reading the posts may think, “Four other people thought this was a bad post. Maybe it is a bad post.” They downvote the post and it gets deleted from the wall. In order to preserve bias in this experiment, if Yik Yak made their voting system private, posts would not be susceptible to the behavior copying that arguably currently exists.

If this were the case, the research would not have the fault of being at fault for posts being deleted because of the 5 downvote limit. Content on the page may become more unique if there was no public display of the voting and people would need to make the conscious decision to upvote or downvote based on their interpretation of the post, instead of being influenced by the people who are voting on the posts.

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