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posted by LaminatorX on Tuesday March 10 2015, @09:32PM   Printer-friendly
from the why-we-can't-have-nice-things dept.

Jonathon Mahler writes in the NYT that in much the same way that Facebook swept through the dorm rooms of America’s college students a decade ago, the social app Yik Yak, which shows anonymous messages from users within a 1.5-mile radius is now taking college campuses by storm. "Think of it as a virtual community bulletin board — or maybe a virtual bathroom wall at the student union," writes Mahler. "It has become the go-to social feed for college students across the country to commiserate about finals, to find a party or to crack a joke about a rival school." And while much of the chatter is harmless, some of it is not. “Yik Yak is the Wild West of anonymous social apps,” says Danielle Keats Citron. “It is being increasingly used by young people in a really intimidating and destructive way.” Since the app’s introduction a little more than a year ago, Yik Yak has been used to issue threats of mass violence on more than a dozen college campuses, including the University of North Carolina, Michigan State University and Penn State. Racist, homophobic and misogynist “yaks” have generated controversy at many more, among them Clemson, Emory, Colgate and the University of Texas. At Kenyon College, a “yakker” proposed a gang rape at the school’s women’s center.

Colleges are largely powerless to deal with the havoc Yik Yak is wreaking. The app’s privacy policy prevents schools from identifying users without a subpoena, court order or search warrant, or an emergency request from a law-enforcement official with a compelling claim of imminent harm. Esha Bhandari, a staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union, argues that "banning Yik Yak on campuses might be unconstitutional," especially at public universities or private colleges in California where the so-called Leonard Law protects free speech. She said it would be like banning all bulletin boards in a school just because someone posted a racist comment on one of the boards. In one sense, the problem with Yik Yak is a familiar one. Anyone who has browsed the comments of an Internet post is familiar with the sorts of intolerant, impulsive rhetoric that the cover of anonymity tends to invite. But Yik Yak’s particular design can produce especially harmful consequences, its critics say. “It’s a problem with the Internet culture in general, but when you add this hyper-local dimension to it, it takes on a more disturbing dimension,” says Elias Aboujaoude.” “You don’t know where the aggression is coming from, but you know it’s very close to you.”

 
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  • (Score: 4, Informative) by GungnirSniper on Tuesday March 10 2015, @10:01PM

    by GungnirSniper (1671) on Tuesday March 10 2015, @10:01PM (#155733) Journal

    The Matthew Mullen story linked in the summary above shows how police in America vastly overreact to every threat of violence regardless of the humorous nature of whatever is said.

    Reynolds said Mullen had second thoughts about the joke, as he pulled it down within one to two minutes of posting. But it was too late — a user had notified the authorities.

    The threat prompted response from MSU police Meridian Township Police Department and the Ingham County Sheriff’s Office, and several schools in the East Lansing and Lansing area were put on alert.

    If anything, the panicky over-response by law enforcement did far more to terrorize students than a quickly deleted joke. Law enforcement will continue to do this whenever they get a chance, since there's no penalty for doing so, versus being sued for ignoring or minimizing an extraordinarily rare real problem. They know how to make a show of force but they lack any semblance of subtlety to avoid causing fear among the potentially affected populous.

    As a result of his plea [he could have been] responsible for the costs of all police agents responding to his post in the county-wide area, up to $20,000, [statenews.com] but thankfully that was cut down. How do they figure the cost of the response? Do they not have cops on duty to reassign from writing tickets?

    We are a country scared of our own shadows.

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  • (Score: 2, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 10 2015, @10:08PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 10 2015, @10:08PM (#155737)

    As someone that is in the area and has gone through several of these 'scares' it is identical to what unannounced firedrills are like. Only authority figures and the exceptionally sheltered take it seriously. Everybody else sees it as either an inconvenience or a lucky relief from boredom. Either way it is just a time to socialize and goof-off even though all authority figures are trying to terrify us into believing Armageddon is about to happen.

  • (Score: 1, Flamebait) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 10 2015, @10:22PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 10 2015, @10:22PM (#155746)

    The law enforcement apparatus is put in a difficult position today. If they don't react, and what appears to be a joke ends up being a dangerous threat, then their balls will be put in a vice by people like you. If they do react, and what appears to be a dangerous threat turns out to be a joke, then their balls will be put in a vice by people like you.

    As you can see, their balls end up in the vice either way, because that's the destiny people like you have chosen for them. You've incentivized the situation so they're better off having their balls in the vice for overreacting, than to have their balls in the vice for not reacting quickly or strongly enough.

    • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Wednesday March 11 2015, @12:31AM

      by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday March 11 2015, @12:31AM (#155834) Journal

      The law enforcement apparatus is put in a difficult position today... their balls will be put in a vice by people like you.

      Isn't this why their were hired for? If they don't like it, free for them to resign.
      (but what if they like it? grin)

      --
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 11 2015, @03:48AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 11 2015, @03:48AM (#155908)

        but what if they like it? grin

        Then they can pay for it like everybody else.

    • (Score: 2) by Anal Pumpernickel on Wednesday March 11 2015, @07:19PM

      by Anal Pumpernickel (776) on Wednesday March 11 2015, @07:19PM (#156259)

      This is nonsense. You're saying they should overreact to jokes because the jokes might not be jokes and then they would be criticized. In reality, in a country that's supposed to be "the land of the free and the home of the brave," they should err on the side of freedom, not safety.

      What about all the people who aren't issuing threats? We need to investigate them, because threat or no threat, they could be terrorists! Violate everyone's privacy (already happening) and ruin everyone's lives! There's no such thing as an acceptable risk!

      As you can see, their balls end up in the vice either way, because that's the destiny people like you have chosen for them.

      How did I choose that destiny? They have personally chosen to react in this horrible way, and I do not control the idiots who believe we should have safety at all costs.

  • (Score: 2, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 10 2015, @10:35PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 10 2015, @10:35PM (#155760)

    > shows how police in America vastly overreact to every threat of violence

    That's because, for all practical purposes terrorism does not exist in the US.
    But turn on the news and that's all we fucking hear about.
    And the police departments gets millions of dollars in DHS funds to fight terrorism.

    So any time there is something that even vaguely looks like terrorism they have tons of incentive both moneywise and mental priming to go full rambo.