This is a new one as far as we know. University officials at South Carolina’s Clemson University are considering a ban on the anonymous and highly toxic Yik Yak app.
It’s not new for a college to ban Yik Yak – two have already done so – Norwich University in Vermont and Utica College in New York have already banned it. It is new because the administration is doing it at the request of students, who delivered the message last semester and then again at a campus protest on Wednesday. According to an article at Greenville Online:
“Clemson University’s Chief Diversity Officer Leon Wiles said the school’s leadership has discussed banning the anonymous social media messaging application Yik Yak from the campus wireless network after students posted numerous racially insensitive posts on the app that he said is exacerbating racial tensions on campus.
Students who marched to Sikes Hall at Clemson on Wednesday to present a list of grievances to administrators said that members of under-represented communities are targets of insensitive, ignorant, alienating and even criminal or predatory comments on Yik Yak.”
We are very encouraged to see students taking a stand against the racially insensitive cyberbullying being delivered via Yik Yak, but caution that the ban won’t work, for two reasons:
- The school can ban the app on the campus wifi only. Students can still use the app via their cell service if they so choose, or when they are not on campus
- Yik Yak isn’t the only problem, it is merely a medium that is increasingly used for anonymous cyberbullying. Anonymous accounts on Instagram or Twitter could be used to deliver similar messages
That’s not to say that we’re giving Yik Yak a free pass. We are not. Yik Yak knows full well that the users of their app are sometimes or often up to no good. They could do a better job monitoring the content or policing users.
Plus, due to the way that Yik Yak works, it is extremely effective in delivering zero repercussion hate speech (zero repercussions for the sender, that is). If a student were to start an anonymous Instagram or Twitter account targeting Clemson students, the posts would predominantly be seen by students who follow those accounts. With Yik Yak, all users in your area see the posts, whether they have made an effort to “follow” or not.
Unfortunately, students are left to police the app on their own. In the case of Clemson, it looks as though they are willing to do so. Getting the administration involved is just a first step.
Hey parents – if Yik Yak is causing so much angst that college students are against it, should your high school student be using it?
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