Abuse Of Yik Yak App Underscores Need For Personal Accountability » ADL Blogs
Perspectives & Information on Contemporary Civil Rights Issues
March 4, 2014 0

Abuse Of Yik Yak App Underscores Need For Personal Accountability

Update: March 10, 2014 – Threats found on Yik Yak resulted in back-to-back evac­u­a­tions of a high school in Mar­ble­head, Mass­a­chu­setts, as well as the lock­down of a Decatur, Alabama, Mid­dle School and a San Clemente, Cal­i­for­nia High School, accord­ing to the Los Ange­les Times. Some of the schools that have been sub­ject to threats on Yik Yak have report­edly blocked stu­dents from access­ing the app directly through cam­pus Inter­net net­works. At least four Chicago-area high schools warned par­ents about Yik Yak in the past two weeks, accord­ing to the Chicago Tri­bune, and prin­ci­pals have asked par­ents to delete the app from their children’s devices.

The abuse of a con­tro­ver­sial new app that enables users to com­mu­ni­cate with com­plete anonymity high­lights the need for some user iden­ti­fi­ca­tion func­tions and per­sonal accountability.yikyak

The app, Yik Yak, which pro­motes itself as being a place “to post anony­mously or under an alias — you can become the talk of the town and never get dis­cov­ered,”  has been report­edly abused by stu­dents in Roswell, Geor­gia; North Kansas City, Mis­souri; and Mobile, Alabama.

In Roswell, a let­ter was sent to par­ents of High School stu­dents say­ing that “this app is allow­ing stu­dents to ver­bally abuse each other, teach­ers and staff…”

In North Kansas City, one par­ent found a hate­ful post about her daugh­ter as well as teach­ers and administrators.

And in Mobile, two stu­dents under the age of 16 were report­edly arrested for using the app to make ter­ror­is­tic threats. Appar­ently act­ing sep­a­rately, each allegedly used Yik Yak to threat­ened shoot­ings at local high schools. They were arrested on felony charges.

These inci­dents empha­size the con­se­quences of a lack of any reg­is­tra­tion require­ments, includ­ing age ver­i­fi­ca­tion, or a cur­sory online identification.

In his lat­est book Viral Hate, ADL National Direc­tor Abra­ham H. Fox­man speaks to this issue, not­ing that “embold­ened by anonymity,” indi­vid­u­als are “freely spew­ing hate­ful vit­riol on the Inter­net with­out wor­ry­ing about reper­cus­sions. Lies, bul­ly­ing, con­spir­acy the­o­ries, big­oted and racist rants, and calls for vio­lence tar­get­ing the most vul­ner­a­ble cir­cu­late openly on the web.”