HAWAII KAI, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) -
Many Kaiser High students stayed home on Friday after a threatening online post targeted a school assembly. The principal canceled the gathering, but classes continued as usual. The social media app Yik Yak launched a year ago as a local bulletin board. The anonymous posts, however, have caused problems such as cyber-bullying and campus lockdowns on the mainland.
Students with signs lined the entrance to the Kaiser High School campus on Friday morning, trying to send a positive message to their peers. The school canceled an anti-bullying assembly because of a troubling post on Yik Yak, but these teenagers aren't backing down.
"We won't be shaken by things like this. We stand together. We support each other and something like this where kids are acting out online, we're not going to step down," said freshman advisor Paul Balazs.
Yik Yak allows those who've signed up to anonymously post and interact with other users within a 1.5 mile radius. They can up vote or down vote comments. Those outside the area can only view the feed.
"I downloaded it just to see what they was saying about me," said junior Isaiah Pongasi.
"The usual stuff people say to each other or say to their friends, only difference was it's not behind somebody's back. They could see what people were saying about them," explained senior Shane Aweeka.
Yik Yak is supposed to be for people who are at least 17 years old, but that hasn't stopped underage users from downloading the app. The founders also tried to create "geo-fences" around high schools to prevent the program's use, but that doesn't always work.
"They can experiment and manipulate these settings to trick the application to say they're not within a certain geo-fence or boundary," said cybersecurity expert Chris Duque.
Investigators have not revealed the contents of the post that led to the canceled assembly. Police have opened a first-degree terroristic threatening case.
"Nothing is really anonymous on the internet. Given enough time, law enforcement and anybody - you can be tracked down," said Duque.