Yik Yak, one of several anonymous messaging apps launched in recent years, has been updated to drop what was once its defining feature.

From now on, users will need to use a ‘handle’ for posts, which also links to a user profile. It introduced optional handles earlier this year, but has now embraced this feature fully.

While Yik Yak had seen some success in its early days, this was accompanied by concerns that its anonymous nature could make it a tool for cyberbullying. The target market was students.

Another anonymous app, Secret, closed after concerns about bullying and spreading false information, with efforts made to mitigate this failing to cure the problem.

According to TechCrunch, co-founder Brooks Buffington argued that anonymity was not something it focused on internally, but instead came as part of a desire for a stripped-down onboarding process.

Yik Yak’s new focus is on creating local connections, with the company stating in a blog post that “being able to have conversations with the people around you, whether you know them or not, has always made Yik Yak special”.

The app has gained an ‘Explore’ tab, which provides ways to find out what other users are talking about, and a Local Yakkers feature, to link with those in the vicinity.

The update has begun rolling out via Google Play and Apple’s App Store.