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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: 3, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 10 2015, @10:40PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 10 2015, @10:40PM (#155766)

    Now this poor kid has to do probation (could have been worse of course) but beyond that, his employment prospects suck considering how little google forgets. He will forever be saddled with enormous consequences for making a stupid joke. If I had to pay such consequences for every stupid joke I ever told, I'd be dead 10x over.

    Consequences for someone's actions? What is this world coming to?

    Making a public threat of violence, whether it's a joke or not, is going to get a negative response. And it should. Period. If every stupid joke you told involved threatening public safety then chances are you would have stopped after one or you'd be locked up right now.

    In a society where mass shootings happen frequently enough that we are both numb to them and must take them extremely seriously no one gets a free pass for threatening the public. You can't blame people for taking you at your word when you say you're going to kill people. If you're stupid enough to say it then you're going to own it for the rest of your life.

    Free speech doesn't mean free of responsibility or free of the consequences of your speech.

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  • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 10 2015, @10:47PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 10 2015, @10:47PM (#155775)

    Free speech doesn't mean free of responsibility or free of the consequences of your speech.

    This meme is one of the most disturbing ones out there. Free speech inherently requires one to be free of consequences. That's what the "free" part means: free of consequences. If there are consequences, then there is not freedom, and so we are not dealing with free speech.

    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by pnkwarhall on Tuesday March 10 2015, @11:08PM

      by pnkwarhall (4558) on Tuesday March 10 2015, @11:08PM (#155791)

      It's obvious from your stance that you don't understand the meaning of either of the concepts of "Free Speech" or "consequences". The former can be attributed to ignorance of the law. The latter can only be due to immaturity.

      --
      Lift Yr Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 10 2015, @11:11PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 10 2015, @11:11PM (#155794)

        Please refrain from ad hominem attacks. Discuss the issues at hand. Do not resort to insulting people when you have been proven wrong.

        • (Score: 2) by pnkwarhall on Tuesday March 10 2015, @11:19PM

          by pnkwarhall (4558) on Tuesday March 10 2015, @11:19PM (#155797)

          Use a dictionary [reference.com], Mr. Ad Hominem.

          Although, I will admit that I was unaware of the 'Leonard Law' post-comment.

          --
          Lift Yr Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 10 2015, @11:33PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 10 2015, @11:33PM (#155802)

        The latter can only be due to immaturity.

        Only? It couldn't be ignorance? It couldn't be a different understanding of the context of this thread? It must be "immaturity," a vague and subjective term?

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 11 2015, @02:24AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 11 2015, @02:24AM (#155879)

      This meme is one of the most disturbing ones out there. Free speech inherently requires one to be free of consequences.

      Speech that immediately endangers others' lives or compels others to inflict harm is not "free speech". These are things we, as a society, have decided do not count as "free speech" and need to have consequences. Remember, your rights end where another's rights begin. Your freedoms do not include the freedom to inflict harm upon others, be it physically, verbally, emotionally*, or spiritually.

      * Yes, some people have thinner skin than others, and its up to society, not the individual, to decide where the line should be on whats considered harmful.

      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Anal Pumpernickel on Wednesday March 11 2015, @07:00PM

        by Anal Pumpernickel (776) on Wednesday March 11 2015, @07:00PM (#156244)

        Speech that immediately endangers others' lives or compels others to inflict harm is not "free speech".

        Authoritarian courts have ruled that. However, their logic makes no sense, as it is always other people's *actions* that endanger others, not the speech itself. You are personally responsible for how you choose to react to other people's speech, and everyone else is the same.

        The first amendment in the US also lists no such exceptions.

        Remember, your rights end where another's rights begin.

        There is no right to not be offended and no right to have your own actions blamed on the speaker. The sooner society becomes more logical, the better.

        physically, verbally, emotionally*, or spiritually.

        Verbally? Emotionally? Spiritually? The last one doesn't even make sense. None of these can be harmed by other people's speech, but how you choose to react to said speech.

        * Yes, some people have thinner skin than others, and its up to society, not the individual, to decide where the line should be on whats considered harmful.

        Society? The society that chooses/chose mass surveillance, the TSA, slavery, Japanese internment camps, the drug war, DUI checkpoints, numerous unjust wars, and countless other horrendous things? Or other societies which violate people's fundamental rights in similar or different ways? The same society that forms an irrational lynch mob whenever they think children are in danger? I'm sure our fundamental liberties will be protected by this amazingly logical and principled society. The majority do not and should not have absolute power, and fortunately, they don't.

        But this is nonsense, anyway. If someone gets offended, that is on them and no one else. I'll gladly take freedom and 'risk' other people saying things that I don't like.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 11 2015, @04:50AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 11 2015, @04:50AM (#155922)

      > Free speech inherently requires one to be free of consequences.

      By that logic no one can should ever be able to gain anything by their speech - not just direct payments, but also less tangible benefits like improved reputation, fame and celebrity.

      Or are you one of those hypocrites who thinks positive consequences deserve an exception, but negative consequences are unacceptable?

      • (Score: 2) by Anal Pumpernickel on Wednesday March 11 2015, @06:50PM

        by Anal Pumpernickel (776) on Wednesday March 11 2015, @06:50PM (#156235)

        There is no "should." If someone *chooses* to react to your speech in a way that benefits you, then that is their choice. It's the same if someone reacts in a negative way. Whatever actions they take in response to your speech, if any, are on them.

  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by hemocyanin on Tuesday March 10 2015, @10:50PM

    by hemocyanin (186) on Tuesday March 10 2015, @10:50PM (#155778) Journal

    Context. You can tell a lot from context and taking stuff out of that context is a form of lying. Let me quote the pertinent section:

    The post Mullen made was in response to a thread on Yik Yak titled “MSU is better than (Florida State University), because at MSU we don’t shoot our students,” Reynolds said, and it was part of a joking “banter” between a friend and him.

    Here's an example. Let's say, I'm out camping somewhere and I said:

    "I'm going to kill you suckers!!"

    Looks really bad, unless you heard the whole thing:

    *slaps thigh* x10
    "fucking mosquitoes ..."
    "I'm going to kill you suckers!!"

    Taken totally out of context you could call it a threat, but that would be a lie, as I only threatened mosquitoes and that isn't much of a crime. Maybe what should have happened here, is a little common sense. The cops investigate, discover it was really nothing, and say "don't be a dork next time" and leave it at that. No need to ruin a person's life -- the real punishment is google here -- over something inconsequential. As for the fraidy-cats -- crime is at an all time low. Go cower under your beds rather than ruin everything for everyone else.

  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Anal Pumpernickel on Tuesday March 10 2015, @11:18PM

    by Anal Pumpernickel (776) on Tuesday March 10 2015, @11:18PM (#155796)

    Consequences for someone's actions?

    There were no actions on his part, just on the part of government thugs.

    Making a public threat of violence, whether it's a joke or not, is going to get a negative response.

    I don't mind negative responses. I do, however, mind government thugs harassing people over jokes, like the guy who was harassed over a bomb joke on Twitter.

    This is just yet another reason to oppose mass surveillance. While your friends and family may know you're joking, government thugs will not take it as a joke, and even something said in private will be used to destroy you, let alone something said in 'public.'

    In a society where mass shootings happen frequently enough that we are both numb to them and must take them extremely seriously no one gets a free pass for threatening the public.

    Nonsense. Mass shootings only seem frequent. I'd be more worried about car accidents.

    And what about all the people who *don't* make these threats? They could be potential terrorists! You think the only ones who could be mass shooters are the ones who issue threats? Please. The silent ones are likely the most dangerous. We should be investigating them all, because there's no such thing as a risk that's too small for us to care about! I want my perfect safety and I want it now, no matter how likely it is that the threat was a joke, or how many people's freedoms I have to destroy in the process!

    Free speech doesn't mean free of responsibility or free of the consequences of your speech.

    It does mean freedom from being punished by the government however, or there would be literally no point to freedom of speech. Using your standard, even North Korea has freedom of speech; people just don't have freedom from the consequences of their speech.

    And there are no consequences. The consequences always come from how others *choose* to react to your speech. Now *that* is where personal responsibility comes into play. And these government thugs are personally responsible for their actions.

  • (Score: 3, Informative) by c0lo on Wednesday March 11 2015, @12:40AM

    by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday March 11 2015, @12:40AM (#155839) Journal

    Making a public threat of violence, whether it's a joke or not, is going to get a negative response. And it should. Period.

    Like the "I'm going to destroy America and dig up Marilyn Monroe" [forbes.com].
    (you should be seriously intelligence impaired to think this constitutes a "public threat of violence". The sort of impairment the TSA/NSA et al. is exhibiting)

    --
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 11 2015, @02:45AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 11 2015, @02:45AM (#155893)

      you should be seriously intelligence impaired to think this constitutes a "public threat of violence"

      Even Fauxnews [foxnews.com] is above that level of intelligence.