What Could Possibly Go Wrong!!!???
Social Media app Yik Yak is apparently being used to spread crude, violent, sexually explicit, and anonymous messages at colleges and boarding schools across the United States.
We had an early version of Yik Yak when I attended college in the pre-smart phone but post-Ethernet age of the late 90s and early Aughts. Ours was simply a serve on the college intranet called the Gossip Server. The Gossip Server was just as much a place of scum and villainy as any other anonymous message board. One friend of mine said she was described as a “rich bitch who dressed like a 30 year old exchange student.” This was a relatively mild statement by Gossip Server standards. My adviser said that the Faculty and Admin desperately wanted to shut down the Gossip Server but feared getting labeled as fascists for doing so.
The worst thing about an anonymous attack is that you don’t know if it comes from someone in the back of your philosophy class or could be someone you consider your closest friends. The “rich bitch” comment my friend got does not seem like one that comes from a random stranger but from someone who you deal with on a regular basis or sees you on a regular basis.
I am not sure if anything can be done about Yik Yak. The founders like so many start-ups started by young college students don’t seem to understand or care about the kind of stuff that goes on with their program and/or considers it a feature and not a bug. The company tries to comply with high schools that request “geo-fences” but only with limited success or effort.
In the end, there is nothing that can be done about these apps that is not draconian or overly harsh but it proves my theory that there is still something about the Internet that taps into the unrestrained ID of many people. Maybe this will end with age, maybe it will just be something we all get used to.