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Yik yak app putting teens behind bars, police warn

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INDIANAPOLIS — Police are warning young people and their parents about a new app that is leading to arrests across Indiana, WXIN reported.

The app, called Yik Yak, is mainly used on college campuses but is location-based, so you can post on it and see the posts close to you. Other similar apps are also on the market, billed as virtual billboards.

The app works by simply finding your location and showing you posts near you. With no need to sign up, you can post a blurb about anything and vote “up” or “down” on other posts. Posts are anonymous.

It’s the anonymity that has produced problems, even threats. Last week police arrested a 19-year-old girl at Indiana State for posting a shooting threat. A similar incident was also reported at Indiana University.

“People feel more comfortable engaging in criminal activity, saying things, doing things they wouldn’t otherwise do if their name was associated with it,” said Indiana State Police Cyber Crime Commander Lt. Chuck Cohen.

Cohen said you should remind yourself and your kids that nothing online is truly anonymous. If you post something criminal, police will be able to get information and find who posted it.

Yik Yak has begun blocking its app when you’re close to K-12 schools, since bullying has been a big concern. It will send a message that says the app is for “adults only.”

Still, Cohen said that doesn’t mean it’s fool-proof.

“Any parent of a teenager will know that teenagers find a way to use things that are designed for adults,” Cohen said.