Another week, and yet another social media app has parents, school officials, and others concerned about its potential to facilitate cyber-bullying. Yik Yak is an app that lets people broadcast information to other users in their geographic area based on the GPS settings of the device being used. According to the Yik Yak site, users can:
In other words, it’s like an amplifier that anonymously broadcasts your text messages to hundreds of people within a 5 mile radius around you in real time. Sounds like the perfect cyber-bullying tool to me.
But, never fear, the app’s creators forbid transmission of “any pornographic, obscene, offensive, threatening, harassing, libelous, hate-oriented, harmful, defamatory, racist, illegal, or otherwise objectionable material or content.” And, I’m certain everyone will abide by those terms.
The creators are also careful to point out that they are not responsible for material transmitted via their service:
Yik Yak, LLC is in no way responsible for user-generated content. Content posted on this app is subject to:
- 1st Amendment: Freedom/Anonymity of speech is protected under the 1st Amendment
- Communications Decency Act: “Operators of Internet services are not to be construed as publishers and thus not legally liable for the words of third parties who use their services”
I’m all for free speech, of course, but I’m also concerned that this particular app creates yet another vector for people to transmit harmful information about others in a way that completely skirts personal responsibility. One school in Missouri is already contending with the fallout from this particular app.
App creates cyber bullying concerns in Johnson County
What are your thoughts? Does this app go too far? What are parents doing to address this and prevent Yik Yak from being used as yet another tool to bully children?
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