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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: 2) by rts008 on Wednesday March 11 2015, @01:50AM

    by rts008 (3001) on Wednesday March 11 2015, @01:50AM (#155861)

    *dons tin-foil hat*
    Maybe this is just a smear campaign to raise FUD about online anonymous = bad! to hand-wave away the surveillance/tracking?

    I'm just throwing that out as devil's advocate. :-)

    It may have just been the article = online!+ online bully app!

    Can it be spoofed? How hard is it to hack, crack, or otherwise 'fold, spindle, and mutalate' it?

    As for myself, I was just curious what all the hoopla was about.

    That was my mistake...another 'Hugh Pickens' masterpiece.

    Asshattery, assclowns, and trolls online...on a campus near you! News at 11!
    Meh. Anyone that hasn't figured out that freedom of speech isn't always pleasant/agreeable from their POV, deserves to be surprised.

    Welcome to humanity. Once you crawl out of mom's basement into the rest of the world, you actually get to interact with these same types!

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  • (Score: 2) by wantkitteh on Wednesday March 11 2015, @02:47PM

    by wantkitteh (3362) on Wednesday March 11 2015, @02:47PM (#156072) Homepage Journal

    Nice piece of devil's advocate actually - good thing to keep an eye on, well thought that man.

    Due to the app's popularity in schools, I think it was probably inevitable that some harassment would take place and some parents/teachers/whoever would blame the app rather than the people who did it. Arbitrary bans on anything by any authority tends to make news, especially thanks to the OMG-pointless-censorship-online-by-naive-idiots angle.

    I remember being bullied at school 20 years ago. At least I knew I was out of their sphere of influence at home, at a mate's place, any place that wasn't school. These days, it's becoming increasingly more difficult to be a socially active school kid without creating conduits for asshats to harass you 24/7. I get the whole "if you don't like it, don't use it" angle, but many kids would equate that with committing social suicide and condemning themselves to being an outsider who's always one step behind the in-crowd for the rest of their school careers. Remember how long that felt when you were a kid in school? Now imagine that length of time as a social outcast - I know exactly what that feels like, as I imagine do a number of the people reading this.