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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: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 11 2015, @02:41AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 11 2015, @02:41AM (#155889)

    Typos aside, the issue some people have, myself included, is the lack of proportionate scale in the cited example where some kid is joking around with some other kid, and a single comment taken out of context is used to basically ruin his entire life because google never forgets even if after probation he has a clean record.

    Without context, threats must be taken at face value. This is where personal responsibility comes in - its his own fault for not thinking how his actions might affect others or how his actions might affect him. At any rate, joking or not, threatening gang rapes and other forms of mass violence are things society has decided we want to discourage, not encourage.

  • (Score: 2) by Anal Pumpernickel on Wednesday March 11 2015, @07:10PM

    by Anal Pumpernickel (776) on Wednesday March 11 2015, @07:10PM (#156251)

    It's his own fault for how other people *choose* to react to his speech? Is it also his fault that government thugs made the personal decision to harass him?

    At any rate, joking or not, threatening gang rapes and other forms of mass violence are things society has decided we want to discourage, not encourage.

    If you want to personally discourage that sort of thing, then go ahead. You do not, however, get to have government thugs ruin someone's life.