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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 Anal Pumpernickel on Wednesday March 11 2015, @09:17PM

    by Anal Pumpernickel (776) on Wednesday March 11 2015, @09:17PM (#156313)

    So, explain to us, why do you feel you have a constitutional right to make threats of murder and rape against others? Exactly what legal theory are you operating under that this is a free exchange of ideas that needs to be respected and/or protected under the constitution?

    The first amendment. I refer you to the post above that quotes it in full.

    So, are you OK with people issuing death threats against you or your family? You wouldn't have any problem with that?

    Chances are, I wouldn't like it, but I do not believe the government has legitimate authority to stop them unless they take actual action.

    The police and the courts should step back and let it continue, in the name of protecting free speech?

    Correct. And the constitution.

    Also, according to Marbury v. Madison the SCOTUS has a long-established precedent to interpret the Constitution.

    What they're doing is outright modifying it, not interpreting it. The Supreme Court's interpretations can be and are wrong. If they're always correct, how is it that their decisions can later be overturned? Does reality magically change? The idea that their interpretations matter more/are always right is a legal fiction borne out of the necessity for there to be some authority figure that has more say than most people; it does not mean they are always correct. When they get it wrong--which they can, have, do, and will--it's up to The People to minimize the harm they do and hopefully future judges will overturn the ruling. There is no such single tribunal.

    Starting Score:    1  point
    Karma-Bonus Modifier   +1  

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 11 2015, @09:23PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 11 2015, @09:23PM (#156320)

    Who the hell keeps modding you up? It appears to me that, in the span of less than five minutes, you managed to post your reply AND get modded up. That is a mighty strange coincidence, no? You wouldn't happen to be using sockpuppets, would you?

    • (Score: 2) by Anal Pumpernickel on Thursday March 12 2015, @12:55AM

      by Anal Pumpernickel (776) on Thursday March 12 2015, @12:55AM (#156439)

      I don't even see where I got modded up. My karma is at 50, so I start at score 2.

  • (Score: 2) by dry on Thursday March 12 2015, @05:01AM

    by dry (223) on Thursday March 12 2015, @05:01AM (#156502) Journal

    Reread the 1st amendment. It only limits Congress from passing laws limiting speech. Individual States were not limited by it, common law was not changed by it, and it is a long standing part of the common law that threatening harm can be dealt with by the courts. It was also passed at a time when duels were at least defacto legal, so insulting someone could have immediate severe consequences which led to a very polite society.
    It can be argued that the 14th amendment expands the 1st but it is not very clear and besides it was passed with a bunch of SJWs pointing arms at some of the States legislators. Being forced to pass a law by armed SJWs doesn't sound very democratic or Constitutional, or are you going to claim that some kinds of social justice are fine?

    • (Score: 2) by Anal Pumpernickel on Thursday March 12 2015, @08:13AM

      by Anal Pumpernickel (776) on Thursday March 12 2015, @08:13AM (#156541)

      Reread the 1st amendment. It only limits Congress from passing laws limiting speech.

      14th, and it is clear to me. The states cannot and should not violate people's fundamental liberties. It never ceases to amaze me when people suggest that it's all that much better when a state government violates your rights. I suppose it's easier to move out of a state, but for most people, that is nigh impossible, and you could just tell 'complainers' to move out of the entire US following that sort of logic. Having to move to avoid having your fundamental liberties violated isn't a good thing.

      or are you going to claim that some kinds of social justice are fine?

      I don't recall claiming that all social justice is bad. I agree with the actual effects the amendment has, but I would have preferred if it was passed in a more peaceful manner.

      Still, it was foolish to leave the states to their own devices to that extent in the first place. States' rights are important, but not to the extent that they should be constitutionally able to violate your most basic liberties (though the states do have their own constitutions).