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Local officials urge students to delete Yik Yak after school threats found on app

A screenshot of the Yik Yak app in the Apple App Store (WICS/Jakob Emerson)
A screenshot of the Yik Yak app in the Apple App Store (WICS/Jakob Emerson)
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Five students across Sangamon County have been arrested this week for making threats of violence against their schools.

Three of the five threats were originally made on an app called "Yik Yak," a social media application where people can anonymously post messages for others in their immediate geographic area to see.

Yik Yak originally launched in 2013, but shut down four years later due to a falling user base and heavy criticism that the app promoted cyberbullying.

A new company bought the site and it was relaunched this August.

While the three threats of violence against local schools were made anonymously on the app, law enforcement officials say those threats aren't anonymous to them.

"It may be considered an anonymous source, but there's obviously an electronic trail that goes with it, and that's our job to follow that electronic trail and find out who's responsible," Chatham Police Chief Vernon Foli said.

Chatham Police arrested a male student on Wednesday, Dec. 8, after an anonymous threat of violence involving a gun was made on Yik Yak against Glenwood High School.

Anonymous threats on Yik Yak were also made against Springfield High School and Sacred Heart-Griffin High School this week, and the students that made those posts have also been arrested for threatening violence.

District 186 Superintendent Jennifer Gill sent out a district-wide email on Tuesday, Dec. 7, warning families about the potential dangers of Yik Yak. Gill says other schools across the country are also facing issues with the social media site, and advised all students to delete the app immediately.

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