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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, 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.

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