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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: 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.

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