Yik Yak allows anonymous users to see exact locations and unique IDs

Yik Yak allows anonymous users to see exact locations and unique IDs

Yik Yak, the anonymous social media platform that was resurrected in August 2021, has reportedly been providing the precise locations and unique IDs of its users.

Yik Yak allows anonymous users to see exact locations and unique IDs

Teather claims that he “was able to acquire the precise GPS locations (accurate to within 10-15ft) of all postings and comments on the YikYak [sic] platform,” which “puts at least 2 million users(Opens in a new window) at risk.”

David Teather, a computer science student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, discovered the exposed data on April 11 and reported it to Yik Yak. Teather publicly highlighted the issues on May 9 after the business rectified part of the problem on May 8.

Teather also discovered that every post and comment on Yik Yak is associated with a unique user ID. The company released an update to address this problem on May 8, someone could still de-anonymize users with “a few minutes of guessing.”

Yik Yak didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. The company does note in an update(Opens in a new window) about the re-release of its Android app that it’s been working on a new API—presumably the one affected by these flaws—and that it “ran into a few unexpected hurdles” recently.

Teather’s findings demonstrate the problem with taking any ostensibly private service at its word. While some amount of location sharing is to be expected from a service like Yik Yak, its users probably didn’t expect to have their exact whereabouts to be revealed, or tied to unique user IDs.

 

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