“Yakety yak, Don’t talk back”: An autopsy of anonymity gone awry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article compares the socio-legal factors and challenges contributing to the failure of the deceased anonymous, hyperlocal platform, Yik Yak, with a living anonymous, hyperlocal platform, Jodel. By analysing each platform’s Terms of Service (ToS) statements alongside their guidelines and values, the article traces how anonymous, hyperlocal applications both diverge from and mirror communication law in fashioning their approaches to content moderation and responses to the dark side of communication. The article concludes that in contrast with Yik Yak, which attempted to rely on its ToS and limited community monitoring system to curb cyberbullying and harassment, the case of Jodel—and by extension, the German approach to regulating hate speech and bullying—suggests that surviving hyperlocal, anonymous platforms of U.S. origin should not solely hide behind Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA). Instead, they should aim to combine (1) robust ToS statements with (2) specific community values or guidelines that are fortified by (3) a comprehensive monitoring system in order to curb abusive behaviour on their platforms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)191-205
Number of pages15
JournalInternet Histories
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • communication law
  • Communications Decency Act (CDA)
  • cyberbullying
  • hate speech
  • hyperlocal, anonymous platforms
  • Jodel
  • Network Enforcement Act (NetzDG)
  • platform death
  • privacy law
  • Section 230
  • Terms of Service (ToS)
  • Yik Yak

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science (miscellaneous)
  • History


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