Scholarship News

What’s All the Yik Yak About Social Media Harassment?


October 23, 2015
by Susan Dutca-Lovell
With the help of the federal government, seventy-two women's and civil-rights groups are launching a campaign to pressure colleges into protecting students from anonymous, threatening social-media posts. Users are able to post anonymously on apps such as Yik Yak - dialogues that aren't necessarily classroom-appropriate. Discussions sometimes contain racist, sexist and other derogatory content which has led to college arrests due to campus threats. According to the groups' letter to the Office for Civil Rights, colleges fail to monitor the anonymous posts or pursue harassers due to colleges' vague First Amendment concerns. Whose voice is more important in this situation?

With the help of the federal government, seventy-two women's and civil-rights groups are launching a campaign to pressure colleges into protecting students from anonymous, threatening social-media posts. Users are able to post anonymously on apps such as Yik Yak - dialogues that aren't necessarily classroom-appropriate. Discussions sometimes contain racist, sexist and other derogatory content which has led to college arrests due to campus threats. According to the groups' letter to the Office for Civil Rights, colleges fail to monitor the anonymous posts or pursue harassers due to colleges' "vague First Amendment concerns." Whose voice is more important in this situation?

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Social-networking platforms that attract online harassment such as Yik Yak, 4chan, and BurnBook have safeguards that can be easily maneuvered by slightly changing works like "rape" to "grape." Community monitoring allows students to "down-vote" such comments for removal but does not prevent the initial posting. Some posts go beyond sexual harassment and threaten students with rape and murder, as seen at the University of Mary Washington. The Office of Civil Rights launched an investigation due to alleged Title IX violations. Colleges tend to avoid responsibility for online harassment on social media platforms mostly because students do not need university servers for access.

Yik Yak's popularity is evidenced by their $60 million in investments and is one of the most profitable social-media applications that allows anonymous discussions. While some organizations such as the Feminists United and the Feminist Majority Foundation are pushing for Yik Yak's ban, Dr. Junco at Harvard University studied the app and would "hate to see colleges prevent students' use of the application, because many of the statements made on it… are positive or affirming."

In your opinion, should Yik Yak and other similar apps be banned or not? Share your thoughtful opinions with us in the comment box below.

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Kiara H  on  11/9/2015 7:05:06 PM commented:

Cyber bullying is getting way out of hand Social Media opinion was a way to express your feelings and keep in contact with others.Social media is no longer enjoyable because many times people are harrassed and belittled because of things that they chose to post!

Bailey K  on  11/8/2015 12:21:58 PM commented:

I believe that the first amendment is something of importance, though, these apps could cause online bullying and harassment. In order to keep from having these issues, the apps should just be deleted. People can go use their first amendment rights elsewhere.

Colton P  on  11/6/2015 10:09:36 AM commented:

Social media these days is getting extremely out of hand. Yes, it's helpful most of the time, but there is more and more abuse of it every day. Controlling it would only be possible by a total shutdown, but that's never gonna happen.

M.W.  on  11/3/2015 8:26:54 AM commented:

From what I've read these programs sound correct.

What are the 72 Women's gr  on  11/3/2015 8:22:24 AM commented:

What are the 72 Women's groups. Please answer to email.

Perpetual T.  on  10/31/2015 8:41:46 PM commented:

Harrassment on social media is a very unfortunate trend in current middle and high school situations. Students are getting cyber bullied on Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. by insecure people who feel as if they can be superior as long as they are harassing someone else on social media. However, this does not mean that apps like these should be BANNED completely. These apps are some people's only way of communication with their loved ones. What SHOULD be enforced is complete, immediate removal of these cruel people's social media accounts so that there will be no way for them to make another social media account again, or at least not for a long period of time.

Hajira M  on  10/28/2015 9:15:17 PM commented:

I believe that apps like yik-yak should not be banned because social media is something that is given by choice and if you do not find the app of importance or in your interest then it is your choice to delete the app and ignore it to avoid it completely.

Venetia G  on  10/27/2015 10:11:20 PM commented:

I think that it really depends on each college's situation. My college does not really have an issue with harassment or bullying on Yik Yak. However, I have not checked out any other anonymous social media sites. I think that if it gets out of hand and nobody is doing anything about it, definitely ban it.

Brenna M.  on  10/27/2015 8:00:17 PM commented:

I do not think that social media networks such as Yik Yak should be banned. We live in a free country where the social networks we use should not be controlled. I believe that the things people say should be screened and taken down if they hurtful or specific to one person.

Madeline N  on  10/27/2015 7:12:50 PM commented:

I do not think Yik Yak and other apps like it should be banned. I think that those apps are just another argument for freedom of speech. Although, some may may that it is someone hiding behind a screen, I beg to differ because even though they are hiding behind a screen, people do not actually take the posts seriously.

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